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MICCA’s pilot projects: demonstrating results on the ground

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.

MICCA pilot projects:
Kenya: reducing the climate change ‘footprint’ of the dairy industry
United Republic of Tanzania: combining conservation agriculture with agroforesty

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:

  • develop, with community involvement, a menu of potentially suitable practices that can contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation and safeguard food security;
  • build the capacity of men and women farmers to integrate these practices into their current farming systems;
  • identify the factors that hinder the wider adoption of these practices and work to create incentives and conditions that can promote their uptake on a larger scale;
  • use the Ex Ante Appraisal Carbon-balance Tool (EX-ACT), developed by FAO, to carry out an ex ante evaluation of the impact different proposals for land use management practices will have on greenhouse gas emissions and carbon sequestration, indicating its effects on the carbon balance;
  • assess the land health of agricultural landscapes;
  • develop and refine the methodologies for measuring and predicting carbon accumulation in agricultural lands and changes in greenhouse gas emissions resulting from the new practices;
  • quantify the impact these practices have on climate change mitigation and on farmers’ net welfare and well-being; and
  • present the findings and recommendations to policy-makers at the national level and to international decision making bodies, including the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

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).

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:

  • spectroscopy,
  • remote sensing, and
  • gas chromatography.

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.

última actualización:  miércoles 29 de julio de 2015