Climate Change, Opinions

Switching to climate-smart agriculture

PAKISTAN has been asked to fully adopt the climate-smart agriculture (CSA) approach to achieve food security and broader development goals under a changing climate and increasing food demand.

The proposal has been incorporated in a study carried out by the World Bank in association with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), the CGIAR Research Programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), and the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID).

The study provides a snapshot of a developing baseline created to initiate discussion, both within countries and globally, about entry points for investing in CSA.

Commenting on the new initiative, Dr Muhammad Azeem Khan, director general of the National Agricultural Research Centre, Islamabad, says that concerted efforts have been made over time to develop technologies to address climate-change issues.

The technologies developed for rainwater harvesting include site-specific hill torrents management, soil and water conservation and groundwater recharge to improve crop productivity.

However, situations differ under wet, dry, deserts and coastal agro-ecological systems. The solutions developed so far are not compatible to address specific issues of all diverse situations, he says.

Dr Azeem says that the successful models practised the world over could be studied for better understanding about the technological choices, social acceptance, scalability and accessibilities.

The potential areas of collaboration could be water harvesting techniques, watershed management, groundwater recharge techniques, water use efficiency, integrated land use, compatible germplasm and microbial collections, he says.

An analysis of the state of agriculture in Pakistan was carried out using the International Model for Policy Analysis of Agricultural Commodities and Trade (IMPACT) for the selected key production systems in Pakistan. It projects that the area under wheat cultivation would decrease while area under cotton, maize, rice, sugarcane, tropical fruit cultivation would increase under both climate-change (CC) and no-climate-change (NoCC) scenarios.

The study points out that the level of climate-related expenditure has been low over the past years, yet the new Pakistan Climate Change Act of 2017 sets the stage for the establishment of the Pakistan Climate Change Authority and Pakistan Climate Change Fund, which are expected to help mobilise domestic and international funds for mitigation and adaptation interventions in the country, including CSA.

Climate impacts may slow the economic progress of the country and roll back development advances of the last several decades. In particular, small holder farmers and the poor are heavily impacted by climate changes. Already, several CSA practices are being adopted across the country, but not in a systematic manner.

“In last few years FAO has worked with farmers on various projects that have implemented and compiled sets of localised CSA practices, including the use of improved seed varieties developed in Pakistan,” FAO Representative in Pakistan Mina Dowlatchahi says. “The CSA practices have proven their success in various different agro-climatic zones and socio-economic environments, improving the resilience of livelihoods by increasing yields and conserving soil fertility, with lower cost of inputs, and increased incomes.”

The challenge, however, remains how to reach smallholders on a large scale, to engage the private sector and to ensure that the investments are transformative. For this, a holistic rural development approach is needed, including access to concessional credit and markets for smallholders, creation of value-addition and incomes from activities in which women in agriculture are involved, and basic infrastructure such as electricity and drinkable water to poor rural areas of the country.

Source Dawn