Mali’s climate is characterized by strong inter-annual rainfall variability. Since 1968, there has been an enhanced recurrence of dry years and prolonged drought which have caused severe negative effects on livelihood. This has contributed to increased vulnerability of rural people and has further caused the deterioration of the fragile ecosystems upon which they depend. Climate change projections for 2025 indicate that Mali may face a hotter and drier future. Average temperature is predicted to increase by 2.71°C to 4.51°C while rainfall is predicted to decrease by up to to 11 percent. These changes in temperature and rainfall patterns represent a threat to food security in Mali’s agriculture-based economy. Mali’s NAPA reports that the agro-pastoral sector, involving 75% of the population, will be affected by climate change. Under the climate change scenario, crop yields in Mali may decrease by 5.5% and forage yields may fall by 20%. This will affect major food crops, such as millet, sorghum, rice and maize, as well as livestock which is the second most exported commodity. As a result, the proportion of the population that will be vulnerable to food insecurity and hunger may rise to 68%, a scenario which is of major concern to the government. Small farmers and pastoralists are especially vulnerable because of their limited knowledge and capacity to adapt to climate variability and change, and there is a need to build their capacity in adopting drought resilient agricultural practices to counter the adverse effects of climate.
Non climate-driven problems such as unsuited agricultural management practices (regarding crop selection, water and soil management, and rangeland management), increasing population pressures leading to expansion of agriculture into fragile ecosystems, as well as lack of capital for investment and positive incentives for sustainable rural development, are likely to be greatly aggravated by climate change. Adaptation of the agricultural sector is therefore not an end in itself but a means to address the development objectives of Mali.
The proposed LDCF project will address those issues by incorporating climate change adaptation considerations, strategies and tools in the agricultural sector by using a two-pronged approach: a) by strengthening farmers capacities on one hand though an expanding network of Farmers Field Schools (FFS) initiatives already supported by FAO and the Malian government; and b) though mainstreaming climate change considerations into agricultural sector planning and increasing cross-sector coordination. The project clearly aims at lessening the impact of climate variability and change on vulnerable farming systems that are critical to sustain agriculture production and food security. Specifically, the project interventions will take place in at least three vulnerable regions (Mopti, Kayes and Sikasso) identified in the NAPA, in three different production systems (dry cereals, cotton/rice, “maraichage”) and in three different ecosystems (Soudano-sahelian (Sikasso, southern Kayes), Sahelian (Mopti, Kayes) and Sahelo-saharian (northern Mopti).
The Adaptation Objective of this LDCF project is to enhance the capacity of Mali’s agricultural sector to successfully cope with Climate Change, by incorporating Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) concerns and strategies into on-going agricultural development initiatives and mainstreaming CCA issues into agricultural policies and programming. The project design is based on three articulated components, which will allow for the delivery of a solid set of inter-twinned and complementary adaptation benefits, measurable using the qualitative and quantitative indicators presented in the project result framework: i) Piloting of improved climate- resilient agricultural practices; ii) Capacity building and promotion of improved agricultural practices through Farmer Field Schools; iii) Mainstreaming of climate change considerations into agricultural sector policies and programs.
This project will primarily build upon previous experiences from technical assistance provided by FAO to various FFS-based initiatives in Mali through: (i) The All ACP Agricultural Commodities Programme (AAACP), which was launched in September 2007 as an initiative of the European Commission and the ACP Secretariat, in which FAO supports the Malian government and private cotton companies with a clear focus on the promotion of best agricultural practices (BAP); (ii) the GCP/RAF/009/NET sub-regional program (“Programme sous-regional de Formation Participative en Gestion Intégrée de la Production et des Déprédateurs des cultures a travers les champs-écoles des producteurs (GIPD/CEP) pour le Bénin, Burkina Faso, Mali et Sénégal”) which focuses on promoting a wide-spread adoption and, institutionalization of best agricultural practices through FFS in different production systems; (iii) the sub-regional GEF-funded project” Réduction de la dépendance des polluants organiques persistantes” where an FAO-executed component also promotes Best Agricultural Practices (BAP).