While land and agriculture largely contribute to climate change and ironically pay for its consequences at the stake of the most vulnerable members of society, sustainably managing land resources can help mitigate and adapt to these effects. The challenge lies in addressing land management, agricultural practices, food supply and the reduction of poverty in conjunction.
Several nature-based solutions for the mitigation and adaptation of climate change effects have been implemented in rural communities for generations as they encourage a healthy ecosystem that ultimately works as a carbon sink. The knowledge that has been passed on for generations is very local and it is often not formalized by scientific methods. This lack of scientific support diminishes the voices of these indigenous communities. While technology, infrastructure and innovation are very much needed, the integration of local knowledge can lead to simple and long-lasting solutions.
WECONNEX learns from nature-based solutions that can help alleviate social and economic challenges while mitigating the negative effects of climate change.
Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) is defined as “an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural systems to support food security under the new realities of climate change”. CSA is not a new way of doing farming but rather a better management system that aims to simultaneously address these interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. It offers tailored solutions to specific problems and regions. CSA can consist of activities with composting matter to keep soils rich in nutrients, the use of organic fertilizers, agroforestry practices to make the crops more climate resilient; among others. The main purpose is to create more resilient communities and ensure food security.
A successful case study in Gambia, documented by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) highlights the whole climate resilient agriculture process, from seeds selection until harvest.
Agroforestry is a sustainable land use system, which combines agricultural and forestry practices. According to World Agroforestry, the method is considered a win-win situation for smallholders and the environment since the mixture of agricultural and forestry practices does not only pose a great potential for carbon sequestration but also protects croplands, prevents soil erosion, absorbs water beneath the root zone and improves soil fertility. Also, the diversification and resilience of crops increases employment opportunities, encourages higher margins and provides more than one source of income for smallholders.
Last September, WECONNEX had the opportunity to meet Tony Rinaudo “The Forest Maker” at the Green Economy Symposium. Tony works for World Vision and has transformed millions of hectares of dry land in Niger through a farming system called Farmer Managed Natural Regeneration (FMNR). World Vision defines FMRN as the management of existing trees and roots that still grow even in degraded areas that can lead to tree regeneration without major financial costs. This approach has helped around 24 countries in Africa.
Organic Farming is described as a long-term holistic production system that aims to produce environmentally friendly and high-quality nutritious food while conserving and enhancing our environment. Organic Farming is considered a driver of sustainability in global agriculture due to the various benefits it poses, not only to small-scale farmers but our environment.
A recent study by Nature Sustainability (2019) states that organic farming can improve soil quality, boost biodiversity conservation, reduce pollution, such as greenhouse gas emissions and consequently increase the quality of products. These activities have positive economic impacts on smallholders, as higher quality products are achieved, the smallholders’ bargaining power increases. It stimulates new employment opportunities and reduces the input cost (expensive synthetic fertilizers) in agricultural processes.
The NEXUS Farming Company (NEFACO) in Nepal is testing organic production on a small scale. Both the yield as well as the quality of the bitter gourds and bottle gourds planted increased from the first crop cycle to the second. The products find enthusiastic buyers in the region and beyond. So far, the experience was only positive and the team is movitated to expand these organic farming activities and their know-how thereof.
According to the FAO women smallholders account for more than 40% of the agricultural labor force and produce 60 to 80% of the food crops in developing countries. However, in the best case, women lack the access to basic farming tools, fertilizer, water and seeds and in the worst case they do not even have access to land rights. A few studies highlight that if women had access to the same amount of resources as male farmers, they would exceed men’s productivity by 7 to 23%.
This situation is highly jeopardizing the future of food security. The inefficiency in the production per yield encourages the use of more land, which often leads to deforestation, more water usage and increasing harmful emissions. Closing the gender gap by offering women the same land rights, farming tools and access to technology and infrastructure is a possibility to increase productivity per yield and consequently, lower harmful emissions that contribute to climate change, avoid the use of more land for the same amount of products, increased quality of products and household income.
Our NEXUS project in Madagascar has been a steppingstone for many women in the villages. So far, 23 women are employed by NEMACO. Working as an operator for NEMACO and being a representative of the company and our mission encourages the women to develop an entrepreneurial thinking and to take over responsibility for running the fisheries operations at the NEXUS Centers.
Women, mainly in developing countries, have an inclination to be the house caretakers, they have a long-term vision in terms of food security, nutrition and a different vision to deal with climate change effects. Equal rights could not only help alleviate food security problems but also mitigate the negative effects of climate change.
The current global situation has opened the door for WECONNEX and its NEXUS concept. In three blogposts we have visualized a gap that needs to be addressed in order to relieve some of the urgent global challenges, such as poverty, food security and climate change in conjunction.
Only by creating resilient and independent livelihoods through access to technology and infrastructure, better agricultural, sustainable and climate resilient practices that help prevent and mitigate climate change as well as access to basic services, we can have a long-term self-sustaining impact in rural communities.
Our projects have also been victims of climate change; showing us that we must become active ourselves. We worked out what is needed in order for our projects to take hold and achieve a more targeted and positive impact in the rural regions where we are active:
1. Appropriate policies, environmental regulations and frameworks that offer guidance and encourage best agricultural practices and land management need to be put in place.
2. Access to funding and resources that support long-term small-scale projects in developing countries need to be made available. Small-scale projects with the potential to grow sustainably have a better impact on people’s lives and a better understanding of the rapidly changing needs of these communities.
3. Public-private partnerships and consortiums with local institutions can help enforce regulations and transform current research into sustainable action-oriented projects.
There is a long way to go and the situation will not be solved the easy way, but we believe WECONNEX is doing the right thing and going through a positive and very much needed path of developing our approach to do the most we can to contribute to achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Abbas, F., Hammad, H.M., Fahad, S. and Cerdà, A. 2017. Agroforestry : a sustainable environmental practice for carbon sequestration under the climate change scenarios — a review, pp. 11177–11191.
FAO 2010. “Climate-Smart” Agriculture.
Jouzi, Z., Azadi, H., Taheri, F., Zarafshani, K., Gebrehiwot, K., Passel, S. Van and Lebailly, P. 2017. Organic Farming and Small-Scale Farmers : Main Opportunities and Challenges. Ecological Economics. [Online]. 132, pp. 144–154. Available from: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolecon.2016.10.016.
Lipper, L. 2014. Climate-smart agriculture for food security (December).
Source: nexus ch