Climate Change

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Climate Smart Agriculture and the World Bank: The Facts

November 15, 2012

1. Feeding the globe at a time of climate change is one of the major challenges of our era.

  • The world population has just reached seven billion people.  By 2050, there will be more than nine billion people in the world. Agricultural production must increase by 70 percent in order to feed the growing population. 
  • Climate change will affect agriculture through higher temperatures, greater demand for water for crops, more variable rainfall and extreme climate events such as heat waves, floods and droughts. 
  • We need agriculture that will strengthen food security, adaptation and mitigation. Agriculture currently emits about 14 percent of global green house emissions and indirectly another 17 percent. We need agriculture that can contribute to sequestering green house gas emissions and capturing carbon in the soil. 

2. The World Bank believes climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is a “triple win” for agriculture, the climate and food security

  • Climate-smart farming techniques would increase farm productivity and incomes, and make agriculture more resilient to climate change, while also contributing to mitigation. CSA includes proven practical techniques, such as mulching, intercropping, conservation agriculture, crop rotation, integrated crop-livestock management, agro-forestry, improved grazing, and improved water management.  CSA also includes innovative practices such as better weather forecasting, drought- and flood-tolerant crops and risk insurance. 
  • Leading scientists from 38 countries agree.  At a November conference in the Netherlands, experts were united in calling on the negotiators in Durban to recognize and support the potential that climate-smart agriculture offers.

3. We are putting CSA into practice

  • Innovative approaches supported by the World Bank (pdf) are already in place in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Niger and Rwanda, as well as in Yemen, China, Brazil and Mexico.  Below are some examples: 
  • African farmers who have adopted evergreen agriculture are reaping impressive results without the use of costly fertilizers. Crop yields often increase by 30 percent and sometimes more. In Zambia, for example, maize yields tripled when grown under Faidherbia trees.
  • In China, a major reforestation program to protect watersheds and control erosion has returned the devastated Loess Plateau to sustainable agricultural production, improving the lives of 2.5 million people and securing food supplies in an area where food was sometimes scarce.  An estimated 20 million more people in China have benefited from the replication of this approach in other areas.
  • In Rwanda, a hillside erosion project is having dramatic results.  Through terracing, improved soil cultivation, better water run-off management, and irrigation systems, farmers reported an immediate increase in yields and income.