Smallholder farmers in the lead for climate resilience
SNV adopts the principles for locally led adaptation, reaffirming its support to local actors in making decisions related to their resilience to the climate crisis.
Climate change is having a profound impact on communities around the world, and smallholder farmers are at the forefront of this crisis. Despite their crucial role, these communities often lack a say in the decisions that affect them the most. An improved approach is required that provides local actors with increased authority and resources to enhance their resilience to the climate crisis.
The Global Commission on Adaptation has developed a set of principles to strengthen locally-led adaptation, and SNV is proud to be among the 100 organisations that have committed to these principles. These include providing patient and predictable funding that can be accessed more easily (Principle 3) or collaborative action and investment (Principle 8).
The Climate Resilient Agribusiness for Tomorrow (CRAFT) project, funded by the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, is an example of these principles in action. Implemented by SNV in partnership with Wageningen University and Research, International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), Rabo Partnerships, and Agriterra, it aims to increase the availability of accessible and resilient food in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.
In Tanzania, common beans, usually called 'aharagwe' in Swahili, are the most important food legume as three in four rural Tanzanians depend on them for daily subsistence due to their high nutritional value. About five million farmers produce these beans across a total of 1,050,000 hectares, this is 7% of the total arable land in Tanzania. However, supply falls short of demand – around 25% - due to low productivity levels and climate change-related and post-harvest losses, including in Tanzania and neighbouring countries. Increased urbanisation and demand for plant-based proteins are driving up demand, and farmers can benefit if they can adapt to changes in climate patterns.
Many stakeholders from the CRAFT project reported that climate change has negatively impacted their common bean business.
Julius Proscovia, a farmer from Songwe region, west of Tanziania, says that ‘excessive rainfall caused an emergence of insects and other pests that adversely affected the quality of the beans. This resulted in a lower price for the common bean’.
One way that CRAFT has responded to farmers’ concerns and needs is by partnering with a Rukwa-based agribusiness company, which distributes agricultural inputs including climate resilient varieties and trades cereals and pulses. Through the CRAFT project, the company is linked to 3,000 farmers of whom 40% are women and youth.
‘For years we have been producing common beans for home consumption only, we were planting our own local varieties and the harvest per acre was less than a 100 kg.’ says Wilson Kempanjo, a farmer in the Rukwa region. ‘In 2022, I was among the farmers who participated in the farmer field's school sessions organised by CRAFT, and we were able to learn and compare performance of different climate smart seed varieties. This year, I have entered a supply contract with Ikuwo and decided to plant only the improved varieties and expanded my farm size from three acres to seven acres and I expect to have good harvest this season following the right climate smart practices being we were trained on’, he added.
CRAFT provides financial and technical support to the company to:
Boost the business skills of farmers, including entrepreneurial-minded youth/women, and farmer organisations.
Train farmers to grow seeds under the Quality Declared Seed (QDS) system.
Show what is possible through a farmer field school approach showcasing climate smart practices and technologies.
Cascade climate smart post-harvest handling training to farmers, reducing post-harvest losses and improving quality.
Train bean aggregation supervisors in international grading and standards.
Identify and recruit new common bean farmers.
Disseminate weather-related information linked to crop management advice.
Host a biweekly radio show to promote climate-resilient bean production in Rukwa region.
Since the project’s initiation in 2018, over 129,000 smallholder farmers in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda have adopted and or applied two or more climate-resilient farming practices on their farms. Over 87,500 smallholder farmers have experienced an increase in their incomes, and 41 SMEs and 15 cooperatives have accessed the matching grant for the implementation of climate change adaptation practices and technologies in their respective value chains.
By empowering local communities and providing them with the tools and resources they need to adapt to climate change, we can help ensure that they have a voice in the decisions that affect them most. Locally led adaptation is key to building a more resilient and sustainable future for all.