NDF - Financing for climate change and development projects

Agriculture needs to become climate-smart

Photo: Luise Jørgensen
11.09.2014

Climate-smart agriculture is about sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes by adapting and building resilience to climate change and reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions.

Farmers are extremely vulnerable to fluctuations in climate. The occurring climate change is causing devastating consequences for farmers worldwide through decreased productivity and destroyed yields, which in turn cause reduced incomes and food security concerns. As weather events are becoming more unpredictable and extreme, and seasons are changing, farmers need tools to cope with these changes.

The agricultural sector is a large contributor to climate change. A huge part of the sector’s carbon footprint derives from the use of nitrogen-based, synthetic fertilizer together with pesticides and herbicides. At the same time, the sector can play a part in the climate change solution as soils have the ability to store large amounts of carbon through carbon sequestration. The top meter of the world’s soils holds some 2 200 gigatonnes of carbon. This is more than three times the amount of carbon held in the atmosphere.

According to Timothy LaSalle, former CEO of the Rodale Institute, in a video for WhyHunger carbon sequestration will not only stabilize climate but will also make agricultural production more sustainable, increase the overall resilience of agro-ecosystems and maintain the ecosystem services that are supported by soils.

Video by: WhyHunger and Timothy LaSalle

Incentives are needed in the agricultural sector to farm in a climate-smart way.  That can, if done correctly, increase yields and incomes, reduce farmers vulnerability to climate change and reduce the sector’s carbon footprint. Adaptation and mitigation measures combined are required for making farming climate-smart and sustainable. There are many different agriculture practices that can contribute to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions while simultaneously building adaptive resilience in farming systems.

NDF is supporting several projects that pilot these climate-smart farming practices. For example, the Improving nitrogen-use efficiency for climate change mitigation in the GMS project aims to support farmers to implement mitigation strategies that reduce the use of synthetic nitrogen fertilizers while, at the same time, introducing climate-smart agricultural practices to enhance productivity and build resilience of farming systems.

The Greater Mekong subregion climate-friendly bioenergy project which supports efficient utilization of biomass for bioenergy and food security, involves also pilot projects relating to the use of biochar as a natural soil amendment. The Pilot project to test the climate change benefits of biochar in Nepal, will pilot-test, in three agro-ecological zones of Nepal, biochar production as a climate change adapting soil amendment, carbon sequestration method, and rural energy source in Nepal.