Farming families stand by their fields and pastures in the pilot project area in Kenya. Showing results on the ground is essential if farmers, national policy-makers, international organizations and donors are to be persuaded to make climate-smart agriculture a priority.
To address this need, MICCA is carrying out two pilot projects in Africa. These projects will provide quantifiable evidence that climate-smart agricultural practices can mitigate climate change, improve farmers’ lives and make local communities better able to adapt to climate change.
For more information on the different aspects of MICCA's work in the pilot projects, click on the links below:
The MICCA approach
Although both projects focus on a different smallholder production system within distinct agricultural ecosystems, they all share a common approach. In each project, the MICCA team and their partners will:
A farming village and the surrounding landscape in the project area in the United Republic of Tanzania.Each of MICCA’s pilot projects is a collaborative effort carried out in partnership with national and international partners within the framework of larger agricultural development projects. In Kenya, the pilot project is being undertaken within the framework of the East Africa Dairy Development Project (EADD), a regional industry development programme led by Heifer International. In the United Republic of Tanzania, the pilot project is being carried out within the Hillside Conservation Agriculture Project, which is managed by CARE International. In both pilot projects, the MICCA team collaborates closely with the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF).
The approach taken in the MICCA pilot projects to develop menus of climate-smart agricultural practices for smallholder farmers is based on participatory assessments and consultative processes at multiple levels. The development of the menus of practices involved site-specific assessments of the adaptation, mitigation and food security benefits of a range of agricultural practices. Practices were identified that are most suitable for the given agro-ecological and socio-economic situation of each pilot project. The different steps involved in the process are described below.
Gaining a better understanding of the socio-economic setting and agricultural practices
A socio‐economic survey was undertaken to collect data on the current livelihoods and agricultural practices, and gain a better knowledge about the impacts of climate change on smallholder farmers in the project areas. The socio-economic data supported the analysis of existing sustainable and unsustainable practices and increased the understanding of barriers to adoption of climate smart practices.
Identifying the capacity development needs
An assessment at national and district levels was carried out to identify the stakeholders working on climate change issues and the main policies, plans and strategies related to climate change. Moreover, through open discussions and working groups, the participants were asked about their organization and their individual capacity needs in relation to their climate change work. In the field, the capacity needs assessment sought to understand the range of current land uses and management practices associated with dairy production. The assessment also considered climate and environment related problems and analysed capacities and needs in relation to the adoption of improved feeding and climate-smart practices.
A check list of questions at the national and local levels, developed by the FAO Capacity Development team and tailored for climate change adaptation and mitigation in agriculture, was used to identify these needs.
Conducting an assessment of different GHG mitigation scenarios
The project undertakes two pathways to explore the GHG emissions and mitigation potentials of different agricultural practices and scenarios. The objectives of the first study were to quantitatively estimate the greenhouse gas emissions of a reference scenario (without the intervention of the MICCA pilot projects) versus the emissions resulting from the MICCA pilot projects (adding climate-smart agricultural activities to the existing agriculture development project) using the Ex-Ante Carbon Balance Tool (EX-ACT).
The second element of the research, which is on-going, develops sampling designs and applies analytical tools to assess various management options and on this basis can then recommend agricultural interventions. For more information, click here.
Developing the menu of CSA practices through consultations with all stakeholders
Several workshops and consultations in the field were organized to discuss and prioritize the different climate smart agricultural practices. Based on an understanding of existing practices and prediction of the impacts of various practices, a menu of potentially suitable climate smart practices that can be readily integrated into current farming systems has been developed in each pilot project.
Organizing a set of trainings and demonstrations to facilitate the process of adoption and scaling up of activities
After the menu of CSA practices has been developed and agreed with the farmers, a set of trainings are being organized to facilitate the process of adoption and scaling up. In addition, the learning on CSA practices have been connected to an extension approach and incentive mechanisms (dairy farmer groups in Kenya and Farmer Field Schools in Tanzania) to promote adoption of the different CSA practices.
Establishing scientific protocols
Quantifying greenhouse gas emissions and mitigation potential of smallholder agricultural activities presents a unique set of conceptual and methodological challenges. The MICCA Programme, in collaboration with a group of international experts, is adapting analytical tools and procedures to contribute to the development of a measurement protocol. The protocol will form a standard of practice for evaluating the global warming potential of smallholder systems and improve the comparability of data across future research activities. Unique to this effort, the protocol will explicitly tackle the complexity and diversity of smallholder systems and be aligned with the different scales of decision making that exist within individual farming households and during the formulation of policies that affect the entire landscape.
Science in farmers’ fields and beyond
Research on climate-smart agriculture in smallholder production systems must address issues that extend far beyond the limits of farmers‘ fields. For this reason, the research MICCA supports through its pilot projects considers the potential benefits and costs of climate-smart interventions along the entire food production chain, as well as their environmental impact across the landscape. To characterize the soils, vegetation, livelihoods, and climate impacts of agriculture and agricultural intensification in a given landscape, MICCA applies a set of analytical tools including:
Diagnosing environmental health
The MICCA Programme’s pilot projects produce a biophysical assessment that establishes the condition of the resources base at field, farm, and landscape level. The assessment of land health includes indicators on key ecosystem functions including: erosion control, soil fertility and soil carbon content. The environmental assessment is accompanied by household surveys that capture the socio-economic situation in the target areas. The result is a quantitative diagnosis of the constraints to enhancing food security and improving soil, plant, and livestock health in the target region. When combined with decision-support tools, such as, tree suitability models, fertilizer recommendations, or erosion risk models, the spatially explicit data provides clear recommendations for adoption of climate-smart agriculture. This information gives guidance for how to select the right tool for the right place at the right time. Detailed data generated through MICCA’s pilots projects delivers critical, often missing, information that allows partners to select and promote climate-smart agricultural practices.
MICCA pilot projects
Key FAO links
A perspective from the field
In the Perspectives section, we’ve posted a short set of questions and answers with Josephine Kirui who is facilitating the implementation of the MICCA pilot project in Kenya.
To read the questions and answers, click here.