Mécanisation agricole durable

Implementing the Save and Grow approach

Building the basis for sustainable and climate resilient cropping systems


The rural poor are the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change, particularly due to their dependence on agriculture for their livelihoods. They are disproportionately affected by their relatively lower ability to adapt to climate change, and the high share of income they spend on food. Poor access to productive resources and their inefficient use further increase the vulnerability of the rural poor to climate change impacts.

Intensifying crop production must be done in an integrated and sustainable manner.

FAO’s “Save and Grow” model of sustainable intensification of crop production aims to achieve the highest possible productivity by unit of production input within the ecosystem's carrying capacity. In other words, producing more with less. This model is the cornerstone of climate-smart crop production –guiding climate-smart strategies that prevent soil damage, promote soil and water conservation, and increase productivity.

No standard formula exists that can be applied to every context. Climate-smart agriculture practices depend on a range of coping and adaptive mechanisms. These mechanisms will need to be adapted to local conditions, and may differ greatly from one farmer to another.

The “Implementing the Save and Grow approach” project identifies Farm System categories to account for the various needs of smallholder farmers – personal, agronomic and socio-economic – and to enable them to transition to more sustainable and climate-smart production systems. The project focuses on maize-based crop systems in Southern Africa (with Zambia as a focus country) and rice-based crop systems in South Asia (with Sri Lanka as a focus country).

The methodology

  1. Identifying factors that influence the adoption of sustainable and climate-smart practices and potential barriers to their uptake
    The key is to identify Farm system categories that represent the combination of factors influencing decision-making at a household level.
    To understand the complexity of how climate affects the productivity of crops, the analysis will need to include, not only total seasonal rainfall and average temperature, but also the frequency and duration of dry spells, and the frequency and duration of temperatures above the optimum for the crop.  This will be linked to the growth stages of the crop, and specifically, to the crop response to stress in key stages.
  2. Addressing factors that limit the sustainable and climate-smart intensification and diversification of smallholder cereal production systems
    It is important to leverage opportunities and address the constraints specific to each Farm System.
    For the Farm Systems identified as the most relevant for upscaling sustainable practices at the national and/or regional level, the project will design field-level interventions and provide socio-economic recommendations to intensify and diversify crop productions in ways that are sustainable for both the present and future prospected climate. This will be done using a participatory approach.
  3. Scaling up the methodology that was validated at Country level to Regional level
    In the Southern African and Southern Asian Regions, the project will upscale the methodology – which has been validated at country level – to promote and enable the transition to more sustainable and climate-smart production systems. This will allow to identify opportunities and constraints for the sustainability of the agricultural operation of Farm Systems at regional level.