Millions of people rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, but this sector is vulnerable to weather. Framing communities can protect their futures with climate change mitigation strategies that reduce environmental shocks.
Agriculture and Climate Resilience Go Hand in Hand
Agriculture is the primary livelihood for millions of people around the world and provides food for all of us. Changes in weather patterns and extreme climatic events — droughts, floods and increasingly unpredictable rainfall — disrupt agriculture and livestock production, deeply impacting the food security and nutrition of households and communities.
Yet, people around the world — from scientists and policymakers to farmers and ranchers — are rising to these challenges by adapting evidence-based climate-change adaptation approaches to achieve a safe, equitable and food-secure future.
“The climate crisis is a major threat to our food systems, undermining decades of progress in providing more nutritious diets to a growing global population. But it’s these very food systems which contribute to the global climate emergency — producing as much as a third of all greenhouse gas emissions.”
-“Climate Action to Transform Food Systems” report by the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Centers (CGIAR)
The Climate Resilience Approach
Farmers need access to and investment in appropriate climate-smart technologies and climate‑resilient practices that increase productivity, build farmers’ resilience to climate change, and decrease greenhouse gas emissions.
- Strengthening farmers’ and pastoralists’ ability to produce, sell and distribute food is, therefore, essential to community food security and nutrition.
- Access to quality inputs, training and markets, coupled with opportunities to diversify outside of and between crop production, animal rearing and fisheries practices, can make households more resilient and better able to feed themselves and their communities, even in the face of shocks and stresses.
- Best practices, such as soil and water conservation, can allow the farming sector to build resilience to the shocks and stresses of climate change while reducing agriculture’s contributions to climate change.
- It is vital to engage local communities in climate-resilient agriculture for maximum effectiveness, with a particular focus on Indigenous people, women and youth.
Climate-Resilient Agriculture Practices
Conservation practices can protect farmland and help farming communities rely on rich, productive soil for generations to come. Waterway management and local hydropower availability may also depend on conservation-based, climate-resilient agriculture.
A study conducted in Malawi with the support of Feed the Future, the U.S. government’s global hunger and food security initiative, examined factors that motivate small-scale farmers to adopt three key conservation practices that promote climate-resilient agriculture:
- Keep soil covered
- Reduce tillage
- Practice crop rotation and intercropping to enhance nitrogen
Results indicated that small-scale farmers look to the behavior of their neighbors as an important influence on their own decision to adopt conservation practices. Farmers were more likely to farm in a climate-smart manner when they saw their neighbors adapting sustainable agriculture practices. In fact, neighbors influenced the small-scale farmers in the study even more than financial incentives.
Gender Equity in Agriculture
Climate change threatens women with food insecurity, water scarcity and increasing inequality. Work by CGIAR suggests that incorporating two of these four dimensions into climate-resilient agriculture interventions can build momentum toward an equitable future where women have agency in responding to climate change:
- Ensuring women participate in decision-making at all levels
- Reducing women’s work burden
- Providing women with access to and supporting their use of resources, such as agroclimatic information, technology, livelihood incomes and credit
- Supporting collective action
USAID places a high value on community-based initiatives that strengthen equity and inclusion while addressing climate challenges — especially those partnerships that engage Indigenous people, further women’s empowerment or promote youth development.
Image approved by Kelsey: https://unsplash.com/photos/eFJQyLcWuNU
Heading: How Inclusive Participation in Cattle Management Strengthens Women’s Resilience in Northern Haiti
Text (taken from case study teaser text): Inclusive livestock management is helping mitigate climate change and bolster household resilience in Haiti.
More About Climate-Resilient Agriculture
USAID Climate Strategy 2022-2030
22 Apr 2022 - United States Agency for International Development
USAID will work with partner governments and local actors to create a resilient, prosperous and equitable world with net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.