Formal and informal institutions creating an enabling environment to turn ideas into action

Scaling up climate smart agriculture requires support on many levels from policy to financing mechanisms, to create an enabling environment for climate smart agricultural transformation at national and international levels. Climate change affects communities in different ways and not all equally and depends on socioeconomic factors, human capital and policy environment and as a result a wide range of responses to the impacts of climate change can be expected given the differences in communities and households.

There are various international policy agreements reached which will shape CSA planning and implementation. The Paris Agreement “the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse effects of climate change”. The UNFCCC have implemented systems, NAPAs, NAPs, and NAMAs to aid Parties in linking climate change contributions to CSA actions of mitigation and adaptation. 

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction addresses climate events as drivers of disaster risk and acknowledges the link with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement  as a means to address disaster in a “meaningful and coherent manner across policies, institutions, goals, indicators, and measurement systems for implementation.

Strong national governance is also necessary to aid transition and implement scaling up of climate smart agriculture. Stronger coherence and coordination between sectors and the development of enabling national policies and promotion of regulatory bodies and legislation. This would require an assessment of existing policy and ensuring gender inclusivity and recognition of the value of indigenous organizations when developing policy as well as assessing existing policy. 

The public sector plays a key role in creating an enabling environment for the uptake of CSA. Stakeholders and smallholders may only be inclined to engage if they are enabled by a coherent Climate Smart Agricultural policy framework. The adaptation of CSA involves policy and climate change issues to become fully integrated at all levels. This would require new structures and relationships developed between policy making, research, finance, stakeholders and extension services.

Scaling up and scaling out of CSA requires access to reliable information on climate, weather, technology and agricultural inputs. Information on local and site specific concerns is scarce. Information may come from a number of sources including government extension programs and non government bodies and one of the key roles of these institutions is disseminating the data and knowledge for use on the ground. Problems often arise in providing information at relevant spatial scale and in effective communication of this information. Engaging with established social groups and appreciating the value of social capital is key to increased uptake and access to information.

Social movements, which are groupings of  organised people with a common societal goal, are key to scaling of CSA. These groups are cohesive through culture and tradition and value learning from each other (Rosset et al 2011, Rosset and Martenez Torres 2012). Information and skills transfer is part of this culture and is proven useful in scaling of innovation and technology and has been seen to be successful with the Campesino a Campesino movement in South America (ibid ). These social movements can implement solutions to extension services, peer to peer learning and financial support through local savings schemes. These social groups are born of cultural networks and can be well embedded in the communities. These groups are diverse and site specific but are integral in scaling and upgrading CSA efforts

The main benefits of community based approaches is in the strengthening of existing relationships between smallholders and local institutions and increased ownership of participatory initiatives developed by smallholders and government extension and non government extension bodies. Strategic utilization of participatory processes and social learning can generate synergies which can strengthen local communities.

The CGIAR research program CCAFS promotes a system Local Technical Agro-Climatic Communities (LTACs). This was adopted from a program in Senegal and rolled out in Columbia and the Andes region. The premise is that free and convenient and understandable access by farmers and farming communities to weather and climate forecasts and the responses of their crop production, processing and marketing options under local conditions have better decision making powers for their families, farms and businesses.

The project outlines six components necessary to implement the LTAC. 1) Establishment of the LTAC and the alignment of local community groups interested and definition of key players and roles, 2) local climate and monthly climate forecast., 3) crop modeling, understanding of climate variation on production, processing and marketing and the impact on management, 4) dialogue between scientists, experts and farmers, 5) dissemination and socialization of the dialogue and 6) local capacity building (Loboguerrero A.M. et al 2018). 

The project facilitated regular monthly meetings as a focal point bringing together information and organizing ideas and disseminating the information. The climate forecasts were short term and accurate and the crop models used to predict crop changes in management were unsophisticated and easy to understand. This promoted confidence in the system which formed the basis for dialogue on how to move forward. The study showed that the farmers and smallholders appreciated the opportunity to give their opinion and point of view and the move to a bottom up participatory process. It was also noted that many of the participants were not fully prepared to understand fully the concepts offered by the project on subjects like climate variation so highlighted the need for capacity building.The project underlines the basic premise that farmers prefer to understand what they are doing rather than follow the recommendations from a committee or government institution, often not on site. 

In capacity building, during this project in Columbia, the program was built by the LTAC members themselves to meet their own needs. In Cordoba and Cauca the communities focused on climate forecasting and crop modeling in order to reduce dependency on the program organizers CCAFS. The participants learned about causes of weather and climate and climate and weather ,models and key concepts of climate change, how to use software and disseminate data. This also improved teamwork within the group and between the group and the scientist/trainers. The monthly meetings became a training group for a wide variety of skills among the community also. 

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