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You are here: Home Magazines Global edition Dealing with climate change

Dealing with climate change

last modified Jan 16, 2015 10:11 AM

Everybody is talking about climate change. It is truly a global concern. It is in the newspapers, on the radio, and many books have already been published. You can read some key findings from recent reports on agriculture and climate change in this issue of LEISA Magazine.

It is also useful to know what is being done, on a practical level, to combat its effects. So, we have put together some field experiences, to bring you ideas and insights from the small-scale farmers' perspective. Further reading can be found, as always, in the Sources section.

So, we have put together some field experiences, to bring you ideas and insights from the small-scale farmers' perspective. Further reading can be found, as always, in the Sources section.

Table of contents:

  • 1 - 1
  • 2 - 3
  • 4 - 5
    “The rains these days are unpredictable… One year they start in November, another year in December, and then we have dry spells at the critical stages of crop growth…” All over the world, the observations of farmers like Emmanuel Luhanga seem to confirm the scientific evidence which shows that climate change is a fact, occurring at an alarming rate. The latest reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) quote a 0.76° C increase in the world’s average temperature in the last century, expecting temperatures to rise by 2° C by 2050. This is leading to rising sea levels, the disappearance of glaciers, and to drastic changes in rainfall patterns, affecting the production potential of rural areas.
  • 6 - 8
    It is now apparent that dealing with climate change is unavoidable. Nepal’s temperature is rising faster than the global average, and rainfall is becoming unpredictable. Many communities are struggling to cope. Experience from a three-year project indicates that adapting to climate change requires an integrated approach, including socio-economic development, environmental conservation and disaster risk reduction. By focusing on a watershed, each element, such as livestock, infrastructure or education, could be addressed effectively.
  • 9 - 11
    In Dhala, farmers have been blending traditional and “improved” farming practices to adapt to the changes in climate they are experiencing. By including practices like mulching, new seeds or vermicomposting in their agricultural systems, yields have improved. This has also shown how NGOs can assist communities in the dryland areas to reduce their vulnerability to climate change.
  • 12 - 13
    In some regions of Nicaragua, sorghum used to be the poor man’s crop. In recent years, more farmers are growing sorghum, instead of maize, in response to changes in the local climate. A participatory plant breeding programme was set up, looking to improve the sorghum varieties grown. Some varieties have now been registered. With scientists and farmers now working together, further activities are planned, such as selecting suitable bean and maize varieties.
  • 14 - 15
    Rural communities have been adapting to a changing environment for a long time. But the scale of adaptation has to increase as a result of climate change. The Sakai project, implemented in Kenya, shows how important weather and climate information is when adapting to climate change. Cropping calendars were used to put this information alongside traditional knowledge. Farmers then used them in planning their farming systems, including the use of relevant “external” techniques such as improved seed varieties and drip irrigation systems.
  • 16 - 18
    Following the successful Farmer Field School approach, experimental Climate Field Schools were set up in Indonesia. These aim to increase farmers’ knowledge on the climate and improve their response to it. Climate is another reason for building up resilience in farming systems, and this was built into the CFS curriculum. Farmers are now more aware of how to use climate information in managing their soil, water and crop resources for best effects.
  • 19 - 19
    Next year it will be 25 years since the first LEISA Magazine (then called ILEIA Newsletter) appeared. We would like to celebrate this jubilee year together with you, the readers of the magazine. To do so, we need your input!
  • 20 - 21
    Farm Radio International recently held a script-writing competition on the topic of adapting to climate change. Working together with different partners, the fifteen winners’ scripts were distributed to over 500 radio organisations across sub-Saharan Africa. These are now being broadcast, bringing accurate and engaging information about climate change and adaptation strategies to rural farmers all over Africa.
  • 22 - 23
    Livestock rearing contributes to climate change, but at the same time it brings many benefits to small-scale farmers. Do these benefits outweigh the disadvantages in terms of greenhouse gas emissions? And how can these emissions be reduced?
  • 24 - 25
    Eastern Uttar Pradesh, in the foothills of the Nepal Himalayas, has been prone to floods for centuries. In the last 60 years, however, their frequency has increased dramatically. People living in the region have slowly developed ways to cope with the floods. These adaptive measures had not been documented until now. A booklet has recently been produced detailing adaptive agricultural practices in this specialised region.
  • 26 - 27
    Coastal communities are particularly vulnerable to climate change. They are affected by changes in sea-level and wave height, as well as changes in weather patterns. Some families with home gardens were better able to recover from the tsunami in Sri Lanka than others. Such resilience often depended on how well the home gardens were protected by trees. However, strong community networks and related support, was also found to be very important for families recovering from this disaster.
  • 28 - 29
    In 2002, the beer brewer Heineken got together with the Agrarische Unie and farmers in Flevoland, the Netherlands. Together they wanted to explore the possibilities of sustainable barley production. Each of the three partners had their own interests, but also had shared aims. Focusing on soil fertility as essential for developing resilience and sustainability, the partners are still working together.
  • 30 - 31
    “Learning centres” in seven African countries are identifying opportunities for adaptation, based on farmers’ perceptions of climatic changes. Together, researchers, farmers and extension agents are experimenting with crop varieties and soil fertility improvements. Results so far highlight that adapting to climate change is not just about technical options, but access to markets, credit or information is also necessary.
  • 32 - 33
    The “Kyoto: Think Global Act Local” initiative is an international project. It was set up to assess the potential for communities such as those in the state of Uttarakhand, India, to benefit from carbon trading. Members of village forest councils were trained to measure how much carbon their forests store per year. They are now looking for more “buyers” for their carbon, while continuing to manage their forests sustainably.
  • 34 - 35
    Malawi has recognised that climate change is an issue that needs tackling now. Adaptation and mitigation initiatives are already underway. Various government ministries are promoting tree planting or ensuring access to water. NGOs are promoting forestry and sustainable land use, while universities are working on biogas initiatives. Here, the choices facing Malawi are discussed – balancing the need to feed itself, against using this land for other purposes.
  • 36 - 36
    Using different means to predict weather conditions, farmers in Uganda have always been able to prepare their farms accordingly. However, the effects of climate change are now being felt, and farmers are changing their practices to spread risk. This includes returning to traditional measures as well as adopting new technologies.
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  • 40 - 40
    Over 400 farmers from 75 countries gathered in Matola, Mozambique, in October 2008, for the fifth general assembly of their global organisation, La Vía Campesina. The farmers analysed how the present world situation –struck with a “quadruple whammy” of the food crisis, energy crisis, climate crisis and financial crisis– is affecting their way of life.
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