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Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

Supporting rural producers with knowledge of CSA

Enabling Frameworks

Overview

Farmers, pastoralists, forest dwellers, fisherfolk and other small-scale food providers are central to the efforts to sustainably intensify agriculture production to meet the goals laid out in the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030, especially the ever-increasing demand for more and better food in the face of global climate change. The Sustainable Food and Agriculture Framework, which outlines FAO’s common vision for improving the agriculture sector and related human activities, identifies five key principles that need to be simultaneously implemented (see Building a common vision for sustainable food and agriculture: principles and approachesRural Advisory Services (RAS), especially participatory approaches to extension, capacity development, knowledge generation and resource management are essential to empower the rural populations to adopt and take ownership of these SFA principles and to help communities to thrive in a changing climate. While RAS have always been supporting farmers to adopt new practices, adoption of climate-smart agriculture often demands collective action among farmers and more meaningful collaboration among a range of stakeholders.

This collaboration needs to involve not just the agricultural producers working in the field, but everyone who is responsible for managing natural resources throughout the landscape, and not just those who practice agriculture and resource management but also the decision-makers who set the policies that shape agricultural development. To meet these demands effectively, the capacities of RAS need to be strengthened at many different levels. Access to adequate advisory service is crucial for ensuring that agricultural producers are sufficiently informed about changing conditions, and can adopt sustainable agricultural practices. Current agricultural extension and advisory service system is unable to meet these new demands. RAS will require increased institutional and financial support, and their capacities will need to be upgraded to support agricultural producers in reducing climate-related risks. This module highlights the key role RAS can play in promoting climate-smart agriculture and provides some guidance on how, through strategic capacity development, they can better carry out this role. 

This module looks at the evolution of RAS (C3-2.1); why they are important in promoting climate-smart agriculture (C3-2.2) and how they support the three objectives of climate-smart agriculture. Chapter C3-3 presents the key challenges and opportunities for RAS in promoting climate-smart agriculture. Chapter C3-4 provides details on the key capacities that need to be enhanced among RAS providers to promote climate-smart agriculture. 

Key messages

  • RAS are critical for promoting climate-smart agriculture. Significant investments in strengthening RAS will be needed for climate-smart agriculture interventions to be able to deliver their proposed benefits.
  • RAS currently contribute to the three objectives of climate-smart agriculture, but they need to play a much more active role in supporting rural communities to adapt to climate change and contribute to climate change mitigation.
  • To fully realize the potential of RAS in promoting climate-smart agriculture, the capacities of RAS need to be enhanced at the individual and organizational level, and throughout the enabling environment.