Climate Smart Agriculture Sourcebook

Supporting rural producers with knowledge of CSA

Enabling Frameworks

Role of extension and RAS

C2 - 2.1 What are extension and RAS?

The Global Forum for Rural Advisory Services (GFRAS) defines RAS as consisting of: 

all the different activities that provide the information and services needed and demanded by farmers and other actors in rural settings to assist them in developing their own technical, organisational, and management skills and practices so as to improve their livelihoods and well-being” (Christoplos, 2010). 

RAS collectively comprise of several types of providers that can be grouped under a number of different terms, including extension agents, community knowledge workers, agronomists, facilitators, advisors, promoters, knowledge intermediaries and programme managers. These providers deliver a range of services and provide technical, organizational, entrepreneurial and managerial support to rural communities. 

Over the past two decades, extension services have evolved from an agency of the National Ministry or Department of Agriculture that disseminates technology, to a mix of public, private and civil society groups that provide a broader range of services to rural communities that include the sharing of technology and information; advice related to farm, organizational and business management; and facilitation and brokerage in rural development and value chains. The increasing pluralism in RAS delivery has been mainly due to an increasing participation of private sector providers that deal with agricultural inputs, agribusiness services and financial services; international and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs); producer groups, cooperatives and associations; consultants, either acting independently or in association with agribusinesses and producer associations; and services based on information and communication technologies.

RAS have always supported farmers in modifying their existing farming methods and adopting new and better approaches. This involved many types of activities, such as the adoption of improved crop varieties and better animal breeds; more effective pest management practices; better soil and water management practices; and assistance to farmers organization to collectively deal with natural resource management and marketing challenges. 

Until the late 1980s, the main focus of RAS was on increasing productivity by enhancing farming practices among individual farmers. But in the early 1990s, RAS started focusing on promoting collective actions by farmer groups, and fostering collaborative agricultural and institutional innovation, with farmers, researchers and other groups. 

Over the last two decades, RAS have facilitated the establishment of groups and associations of farmers to support promotion of new technologies (e.g. farmer interest groups); enhance capacities to deal with pest and disease management (e.g. Farmer Field Schools); manage natural resources (e.g. participatory irrigation management and watershed management groups; community forest management groups); and engage in collective marketing (e.g. producer cooperatives). 

In many countries, the public sector extension services' educational role has been neglected over the years. Priority has shifted to other activities that governments consider more important for agricultural development, such as the distribution of inputs and financial assistance, the gathering of farm statistics and organizing relief during natural disasters. Agricultural extension lost momentum in the 1990s after the World Bank withdrew funding from the Training & Visit extension approach (Anderson, Feder & Ganguly, 2006). This situation has eroded the capacities of RAS providers, who now find it difficult to perform their traditional roles, let alone take on new ones (Davis and Oberthür, 2014). 

The 2008 food crisis demonstrated the vulnerability of the poor to income shocks due to food price increases. This has led to renewed government and donor interest in agriculture in general and RAS in particular. In the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), extension is explicitly mentioned in in SDG2 as one of the areas that need increased investment to meet the goal of ending hunger, improving nutrition and promoting sustainable agriculture. In many countries, RAS advise women farmers on aspects related to agriculture, climate and nutrition. These activities will help meet the goal of SDG5 to provide women and girls with equal access to knowledge. 

Farmers are facing several new challenges: sustaining yields under deteriorating and declining soil and water availability; coping with fluctuating demand and prices for their produce; adapting to climate change; responding to new products and quality standards; and attracting and retaining youth in agriculture. RAS must help farmers respond to these challenges. To do this, they need to broaden their mandate and work with many of the other stakeholders and service providers in the agrifood system. This also involve strengthening the capacities of RAS providers and their organizations at varying levels (individual, organizational and enabling environment level) as articulated in the GFRAS Position Paper, The New Extensionist (GFRAS, 2012). 

C2 - 2.2 Why are RAS important for climate-smart agriculture?

Climate change is already affecting agriculture and food security. If no urgent actions are taken, climate change will put millions of people at risk of hunger and poverty. The expected effects of climate change, which include higher temperatures, more frequent extreme weather events, water shortages, rising sea levels, ocean acidification, land degradation, the disruption of ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity, could seriously compromise agriculture’s ability to feed the most vulnerable populations and impede progress towards the eradication of hunger, malnutrition and poverty (FAO, 2016a). Enhancing the capacities of farmers to manage risks and adopt effective climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies merits special attention. 

Promoting climate-smart agriculture involves changing the behaviour, strategies and agricultural practices of millions of agricultural producers. These producers need to be supported in understanding the impacts of climate change and adopting more climate-smart strategies. In this regard, RAS providers can play a critical role, by serving as a link between farmers and new sources of information and tools, and promoting the behavioural changes that can lead agricultural communities to adopt climate-smart agricultural practices (Simpson and Burpee, 2014). No groups other than RAS providers have an explicit focus on supporting changes and innovations among rural communities to enhance their livelihoods. 

RAS are able to effectively support the promotion of climate-smart agriculture among farmers for a number of reasons.

  1. RAS staff have close working relationships with rural communities, especially at the field level. Farmers will be more receptive and willing to experiment with advice related to climate-smart agriculture if supported by RAS. In many countries, only RAS have personnel available on the ground to directly work with rural communities.
  2. RAS providers often have detailed and nuanced understanding of farmers vulnerabilities and the existing conditions under which they operate. Their understanding extends to the assets of farm households, the social dynamics within and between communities, and farmers’ adaptive capacities. This knowledge is a critical prerequisite to devising appropriate strategies to adapt to climate change at the household and community level. 
  3. RAS providers are often aware of the support and services available locally, and the different types of user groups. When adopting new practices, farmers often need advice on how to access other complementary sources of knowledge, support and services. RAS providers can help farmers make informed decisions based on information from these different sources. For instance, a farmer planning to grow a new crop or a new crop variety may like to know whether there is a market for the produce and the prevailing market prices. RAS providers can also share agrometeorological crop forecasting with farmers in a way they can understand, giving them the ability to determine for themselves whether a new variety will be the best option given future climate projections. In some countries, the capacity of RAS to support farmers with this type of information is improving. Information and communication technologies made more information available to RAS providers and farmers.
  4. RAS providers can play needed mediation role for the extensive scaling up of climate-smart agriculture. This requires broader expertise and new levels of innovative thinking to harness appropriate technologies, practices and agricultural products. It will therefore in many cases involve promoting interactions and knowledge flows among a broader range of stakeholders performing a wide range of roles within the policy and practice spectrum.
  5. RAS have traditionally acted as intermediaries between research and farmers. This expertise in mediation will be useful for supporting wider interactions among these different stakeholders, including those in the private sector. With suitably developed capacities, RAS can expand its intermediation role to support promotion of climate-smart agriculture. 
  6. During and post natural disasters and extreme weather events, RAS often assist rural communities in coping with the crises by providing relief and engaging in rebuilding rural livelihoods post-disaster (Shepherd et al., 2013). With their knowledge of the natural resources and rural livelihoods, RAS providers to facilitate promotion of sustainable rural livelihoods post-disaster. 

C2 - 2.3 How can RAS contribute in promoting climate-smart agriculture practices?

RAS use a number of approaches and tools to reach farmers with new knowledge, including:

  • demonstrations,
  • training activities
  • individual farm visits,
  • the training of lead farmers or farmer trainers to train others,
  • training of input and service providers,
  • group discussions,
  • exposure visits to innovative farmers
  • Farmer Field Schools (chapter C2-3.1)
  • plant clinics (Box C2.1),
  • field days
  • messages delivered through various media (e.g. mobile phone messaging, farm radio, participatory videos, television)

However, there are few examples of how RAS are supporting climate-smart agriculture. Most of the examples come from special projects and pilot initiatives promoted by donors, researchers and the development community, for example, the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). The GACSA Compendium (FAO, 2016b) discusses some of these initiatives. 

Project-based experiences offer several valuable lessons on how RAS could contribute to the following three objectives of climate-smart agriculture: 

  1. sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and income for food security; 
  2. adapting and building resilience of agricultural and food security systems to climate changes at multiple levels; and 
  3. reducing greenhouse gas emissions, where possible, from the agriculture sectors, which include crop and livestock production, fisheries and aquaculture, and forestry (FAO, 2013a).

Each of these objectives are addressed in this chapter.

Box C2.1 Plant clinics 

The Centre for Agriculture and Bioscience International (CABI) promotes plant clinics through its Plantwise programme. Plant clinics are a meeting place where local plant health extension officers, known as plant doctors, help farmers struggling with plant pests and diseases. The extension officers provide diagnoses and management advice for any problem and any crop. The plant clinics are owned by national and local bodies and run on a regular basis in public venues that are best suited to serve as meeting places for farmers. Information about plant health problems and the advice given through prescription forms are recorded at the plant clinics. 

Data about each farmer’s visit are held within a central repository and are an extremely valuable source of real-time information. Based on the information on the crop problems farmers face in a certain region, response strategies can be initiated, or the suitability of the advice given can be assessed and, if needed, corrective action can be taken. Plantwise provides training for plant doctors and connects them with information resources, such as the Plantwise Knowledge Bank, and national research centres that can provide diagnostic support. 

Plant clinics contribute to food security by safeguarding physical and economic access to food. The targeted advice given through these clinics have reduced crop losses and increased yields. To date 1 800 plant clinics have been established in 34 countries. A rapid farmer satisfaction survey conducted in Pakistan and Sri Lanka as part of an external evaluation of the programme indicated high levels of customer satisfaction; 92 percent of the respondents were satisfied with the level of knowledge of the plant doctors, and 72 percent reported increased crop yields. 

Source: Plantwise, 2015

Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes for food security

The successful scaling up of climate-smart agriculture to sustainably increase agricultural productivity and incomes involves testing, adapting and evaluating different technologies and management practices with farmers and other stakeholders. This is important for expanding the evidence base, determining which practices and extension methods are suitable in each context, and identifying the synergies and trade-offs between food security, adaption and mitigation (FAO, 2016b). RAS providers are well placed to bring such information to farmers and coordinate information flows back to research activities.

RAS have traditionally promoted new knowledge related to sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and farm incomes. Some of these traditional areas of RAS activities relate to key components of climate-smart agriculture, including: 

  • improved seeds and planting material, new crops and crop varieties and more efficient cropping systems (Box C2.2);
  • sustainable mechanization (e.g. laser levellers, no-till seeders);
  • improved land management practices (e.g. terrace farming, soil and water conservation measures, furrow planting);
  • efficient and effective pest and nutrient management (e.g. integrated pest management, integrated nutrient management);
  • improved feed management practices (e.g. balanced rations); and
  • post-harvest management and value addition activities.

RAS have also supported the organization and strengthening of farmer groups to deal with many challenges, especially those related to production and pest management, disaster risk reduction and resilience (e.g. Farmer Field Schools) natural resource management (e.g. water user groups, community forest management groups) and marketing (e.g. producer cooperatives). 

As there has been a greater recognition that the quality of the produce and the ability of farmers to negotiate better prices significantly influence farm income, in many countries, RAS have also started advising farmers on how to market farm produce. RAS interventions in this area include: 

  1.  enhancing capacity of farmers to understand and research market demands (e.g. quality standards, price trends); 
  2. mobilizing farmers for group marketing; and 
  3. supporting farmers to establish connections with various market players. 

However, significantly more efforts are needed in the area of market-oriented agricultural advisory services, and capacities have to be considerably enhanced in this regard within RAS at all levels. (Neuchatel Group, 2008; AFAAS, 2011). 

Box C2.2 Promotion of alternative cropping pattern to increase productivity, profitability and employment in Northern Bangladesh

In northern Bangladesh, the aman rice-potato-boro rice cropping pattern is the most popular cropping pattern due to good potato markets and rice harvests. This cropping pattern, however, can be economically and environmentally damaging. The cultivation of boro rice (March-May) after the harvest of potato in sandy loam soils requires withdrawals of huge quantities of ground water. This is already a scarce resource, and climate change may increase pressure on local water resources. 

Food insecurity is common among the poor rural population in northern Bangladesh in September and October and April and May. This is primarily due to unemployment during this period, as the long-duration rice varieties, which are the dominant crops in the aman season, are not harvested until December and January. These varieties require nearly 150 days to mature, and farmers have to wait until mid-November to harvest this food crop. 

Research studies have shown that the food insecurity and unemployment of farm workers in September and October can be mitigated by scaling up the production of short duration aman rice (Var. BUdhan 1, BRRI Dhan 56, BINA Dhan 7) that can be harvested in October. This not only helps ensure food security, but also improves productivity, as it facilitates the timely planting of winter potato or wheat after the rice harvest. The timely planting of potato or wheat in the winter season creates the opportunity to cultivate short-duration mung bean (BUmug 4, BARImung 6) and short-duration aus rice (variants of Pariza rice) in sequence. These two crops require nearly 60 and 70 days respectively to reach harvest. As short duration aman rice and aus rice (harvested in July and August) utilize mostly rainwater, they offset the detrimental effect of excessive ground water withdrawal needed in boro rice cultivation in traditional cropping systems. 

The RDRS Bangaldesh (an NGO based in Northern Bangladesh) in collaboration with the Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Agricultural University and with financial assistance from the Krishi Gobeshona Foundation, tested an intensive four-crop sequence (aman rice-mustard or potato - mung bean - aus rice) with 400 selected farmers in eight north-west districts, and compared it with traditional cropping pattern (aman rice - potato - boro rice). The project provided critical inputs, such as seeds, micronutrient fertilizers and pesticides, to establish demonstration sites for selected crops. The selected farmers had experience in cultivating rice, mustard, and potato, but they lacked knowledge on new cropping systems and modern agricultural technologies, and the effective and efficient use of inputs. RDRS and the Department of Agricultural Extension provided one day of field-based training activities for the farmers on the selection of good quality seeds and crop varieties, fertilizer application and management, irrigation water application and water saving techniques. 

Based on the whole cropping pattern, the cost-benefit ratio was 2.93 in the alternate cropping pattern and 1.72 in the traditional cropping pattern. In the project design, it was expected that about 2 000 farmers would adopt the new cropping pattern. However, by the end of the project in 2014, nearly 4 000 farmers had adopted the alternate cropping pattern. The project used print and electronic media to share the details of its activities and its success, which helped convince other extension service providers and country administrators of the value of promoting the new practice.

Source: Rashid and Haque, 2016

Adapting to climate change

Actions to adapt to climate change can range from behavioural shifts (e.g. farmers planting more drought-resistant crops or more farmers buying crop insurance) to large-scale infrastructure projects (e.g. building coastal defences to protect against sea-level rise or setting aside land corridors to help species migrate). In many areas, successful adaptation to the impacts of climate change will require adjustments to existing systems (e.g. changes in crop management practices) and transformational changes (e.g. shifting to entirely different production systems). See Module A2 on climate change adaptation approaches. 

While RAS play a crucial role in helping farmers to adjust to a changing conditions and adapt new practices, an important aspect of the support provided by RAS to farmers to help them adapt to climate risks is the delivery of climate information (see also chapters B1-2B6- 4.2 and B10-5 for more information on weather forecasts). RAS use traditional media, such as radio, and new communication tools, such as mobile phones, to communicate climate information, including early warning weather advisories to farmers (Box C2.3).

In several of its projects, CCAFS has been researching ways of providing climate services to farmers. Using up-to-date information and communications technologies can clearly support the dissemination of information that can reduce the risks farmers face, and the use of mechanisms, such as weather insurance, can compensate for losses incurred when risks cannot be avoided (Davis and Sulaiman, 2013).

Weather and climate information is communicated to farmers through a variety of information and communications technologies, with Short Message Service (SMS) being one of the most common mechanisms. For an example from the public sector, visit the web site of the India Meteorological Department; for examples from the private sector, visit these web sites: Ignitia, Esoko, Farmerline. These mechanisms deliver information to support farmers' short-term decision-making by sending notices directly to their phones though text messages or mobile applications. In Paraguay, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock has initiated such a system, called Agro Ayuda (web site in Spanish). To overcome communication barriers and illiteracy, information is sometimes delivered through voice-based systems. Interactive voice response systems automate the answering of incoming calls and interact with callers based on their answers to the listed options.  Such systems have been used by the India Meteorological Department, and by Farm Radio International in various sub-Saharan African countries (e.g. Farm Radio International’s Uliza initiative). Information technology is also used as the backbone for hotlines that have been set up to deliver information to farmers.  One such hotline, is the 8028 Hotline, which was established in Ethiopia through a partnership established among the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ethiopian Institute of Agricultural Research, Ethio Telecom, and the Ethiopian Agricultural Transformation Agency.

Box C2.3 Climate Advisory Support to farmers in Ghana

In 140 communities across 10 districts in the northern region of Ghana, the CCAFS has implemented the Climate Advisories and Insurance Development (CASCAID) project, is operating Participatory Integrated Climate Services for Agriculture (PICSA). PISCA has trained established farmer groups to use accurate, user-friendly and location-specific historical climate and weather information in the form of graphs and climate probabilities. Forty percent of the participants who have been trained are women. This information, produced by the National Meteorological Service and the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences is analysed together with locally relevant crop, livestock and livelihood options. Using participatory decision-making tools, farmers are able to make choices in response to  climate variability. Seasonal and short-term forecasts are also provided. 

The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA-Ghana) and OXFAM trained government employees, staff NGOs and agricultural extension officers who then put their new skills and ideas to use in working with groups of farmers. Along with training, ZAA FM, a prominent radio station in northern Ghana, broadcasted a series of farmer mobile phone-in programmes based on the PICSA approach, which included representatives from the Ghana Meteorological Agency and the trained agricultural extension officers.

A survey found that 97 percent of farmers trained in the PICSA approach had made changes in their farming practices, for example, using the historical climate information to select crops and varieties, such as shorter duration maize varieties, that were best suited to the local climate. A large number of farmers also reported diversifying their livelihood activities. Many were using the participatory tools, especially participatory budgeting, in their planning and decision-making.

Following the training, extension workers reported that farmers had been approaching them to discuss new ideas and seek their help in acquiring new crop varieties and their advice in taking up new livelihoods.

The fact that farmers were enthusiastic about sharing the information with others is a testament to the strength of the PICSA approach. Eighty-four percent of the participating farmers had shared PICSA information with their peers, with each farmer reaching an average of five other farmers.

Source: CCAFS, 2016a

RAS generally perceive adaptation to climate change as something that is done at the farm level using technological approaches. There are several examples of RAS promoting technologies and practices (e.g crop varieties that can better tolerate or resist to specific climate change related stresses, and hardier livestock breeds) that help farmers cope with the impacts of climate change. There is little appreciation that climate change adaptation also involves changes in the policies and institutional regimes that govern agricultural production (Leuwis and Hall, 2013). New capacities have to be built among RAS providers and all the stakeholders in agricultural systems to effectively promote climate-smart agriculture. However, capacity development in the context of climate change is often perceived as training farmers on new practices and technologies and the distribution of inputs that will support their adoption (Sulaiman, 2012). Some initiatives, such as Climate-Smart Villages (see Box C2.4), multistakeholder innovation platforms, and a number of Farmer Field School programmes have been designed to enhance capacities of different stakeholders to deal with changing climate and ensure long-term resilience.

Box C2.4  Climate-Smart Villages: Lessons so far

In West and East Africa, South and Southeast Asia, and Latin America, CCAFS is working with a number of partners, including national governments, research institutions, local farmers, community-based organizations, national meteorological institutions and private sector stakeholders to test a range of interventions in Climate-Smart Villages (CSVs). 

After potential sites have been selected, a steering group of community representatives and researchers work together to identify appropriate climate-smart agriculture options for that village. These include climate-smart technologies, climate information services, local development and adaptation plans, business models and associated supportive institutions and policies, all tailored to that community’s needs. 

One of the strengths of the CSV approach is its inclusiveness. Farmers from different communities, researchers from different disciplines, NGOs and other partners, all come together to test a range of options in an integrated fashion. This has led to the identification of climate-smart agriculture responses that are based on women and men’s differing farming needs and constraints. Results to date have shown how food security and resilience can be improved in the face of climate change, and have pointed to ways in which smallholders farmers in many types of communities can adapt their agricultural practices. 

Some of the important lessons learned from the implementation of CSVs are: 

  • Engaging different stakeholders to identify and understand their different knowledge, skills, interests and constraints provides new insights into farmers’ perceptions of climate-smart agriculture practices that are suitable for adoption.
  • Targeting women and youth, and ensuring they are included in making decisions on climate-smart agriculture options, makes the benefits of climate-smart agriculture practices more sustainable.
  • CSVs can be a model for communication and partnerships for a variety of stakeholders and institutions at all levels.
  • The early attempts at implementing CSVs have potential for improvement, including the sustainability of results beyond the project implementation.
  • Beyond productivity, there is a lack of other indicators capable of providing evidence as to the degree to which initiatives are climate-smart.
  • There is a need to balance technological and socio-economic aspects of the activities; acknowledge more fully indigenous knowledge; and overcome a lack of involvement of poor farmers.
  • More research, engagement and documentation are needed to facilitate the scaling up of activities.

Source: CCAFS, 2015

If farmers are to be supported to adapt to climate change, RAS need to combine the testing, the refinement and the promotion of locally applicable technological innovations with institutional innovations related to the development of farmer organizations, the creation of new business models and pro-active policy engagement. The capacities of RAS to promote these types of interventions are currently limited, and should be an important area for capacity development. 

Reducing and/or removing greenhouse gas emissions for climate change mitigation

Climate change mitigation involves implementing measures that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance carbon sinks. In some case, this can be done by using new technologies and renewable energies, making older equipment more energy efficient, modifying management practices or changing consumer behaviour. 

RAS are contributing to climate change mitigation by promoting practices that increase the amount of soil organic carbon and/or reduce the relative rate of carbon dioxide released through the mineralization of soil organic carbon (e.g returning organic matter to the soil as plant residues and manure). Other practices promoted by RAS that support climate change mitigation are those that optimize the use of external agrochemicals, such as pesticides and fertilizers, that have a high carbon footprint (e.g. promoting integrated and ecological pest management. RAS also promote agroforestry systems (see module B5), mangrove conservation, the proper management of agricultural wastes, and good agronomic practices and technologies, such as improved grazing land management, crop rotations and associations, sustainable mechanization (e.g solar powered tractors or plant jabbers for conservation agriculture), and improved fallows. 

In most developing countries, RAS have very limited presence among organizations involved in forest management and agroforestry promotion. However, in some countries, RAS are engaging with private landowners and other professionals in the forestry sector to consider how local temperature and precipitation patterns have changed and encourage the implementation of widely accepted management practices to build resilience in the forests. For instance, in the United States of America, the Pine Integrated Network: Education, Mitigation, and Adaptation (PINEMAP) focuses on the 20 million acres of planted pine forests managed by private landowners (see Box C2.5). 

Box C2.5  PINEMAP 

In the United States of America, PINEMAP integrates research, extension, and education to enable landowners with planted forests of southern pine to manage their forests in ways that, by 2030, will lead to a 15 percent increase in carbon sequestration and 10 percent increase in the efficiency of nitrogen inputs and other fertilizers. PINEMAP also helps forest managers adapt their forest management approaches to build forest resilience and safeguard sustainability under variable climatic conditions. PINEMAP focuses on loblolly pine (Pinus taeda), which accounts for about 80 percent of planted forests in the coastal states of America, from Virginia to Texas, as well as Arkansas and Oklahoma.

PINEMAP is designed to develop and evaluate mitigation and adaptation activities that will reduce potential risks associated with changes in climate variability and educate landowners to ensure the continued sustainability of southern pine management in a changing world. To achieve this goal, the PINEMAP extension activities include:

  • Developing partnerships among extension foresters and state climatologists to build a regional network of climate extension and outreach specialists that will collectively develop and review materials; provide oversight and advice to research and education activities; and prepare and implement workshops on climate variability and climate change impacts for local and regional forest industry and non-industrial private forest landowners.
  • Implementing state and regional extension advisory committees with forest management, climatology, social science, and extension expertise to provide oversight to regional specialists that will develop, deliver, and evaluate PINEMAP extension programming and outcomes.
  • Assessing stakeholder perceptions, their information and decision-making needs, and their current practices to determine the preferred and most cost-effective methods of communication, education, and evaluation.
  • Developing a web-based decision support system that will include the results of the genetic, silvicultural, and economic information obtained from project research, and provide an open-source set of current and future decision-support tools to support innovative management practices in southern pine forests.
  • Developing extension products, including online learning modules for extension, a national Internet-based educational network, fact sheets and webinars.
  • Conducting training workshops for educators from a variety of agencies, county extension agents, and state forestry and natural resource professionals with outreach responsibilities in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • Developing impact assessments regarding the adoption of alternative planted pine forest management systems designed to enhance climate change mitigation and adaptation; the engagement of non-corporate landowners in active planted pine management and carbon markets; the quantitative changes in regional planted pine forest carbon sequestration and nitrogen use efficiency resulting from adoption of alternative management systems; and clientele understanding of interaction between climate and forests.


Climate change mitigation, including the monitoring and assessment of greenhouse gas emissions, is an area where RAS have not been active. RAS can contribute to mitigation efforts, for example, by strengthening farmer groups and rural organizations in their efforts to implement farming approaches and technologies that reduce emissions or sequester carbon as a co-benefit of increased productivity or climate change adaptation; supporting them in their efforts to access voluntary and regulated carbon markets; and promoting payment for ecosystem services programmes (David, 2016).

Climate change mitigation also demands engagement with those involved in policy making at different levels. RAS providers should be able to play an important role in communicating the realities on the ground with respect to climate change mitigation to policy makers and advocate for policy changes to enhance mitigation. However, their technical knowledge on climate change mitigation is not strong, and they often lack the skills needed for effective policy engagement (e.g. generating policy-relevant evidence, lobbying and preparing advocacy communications). 

The potential for RAS to contribute to mitigation efforts remain largely untapped. RAS could contribute equally to the three objectives of climate-smart agriculture, if its capacities were enhanced in a number of areas.