WHAT IS CLIMATE SMART AGRICULTURE?

Climate smart agriculture aims to address the inter-connected challenges of food insecurity and climate change in an integrated way, increasing food production, providing income generation for communities as well as protecting and restoring the natural resources that underpin communities.

The natural resources required to ensure global sustainable food security are under severe pressure, particularly in Ethiopia and Eritrea where Vita works hand in hand with rural communities.

Vita’s aim is to support communities in rural Ethiopia and Eritrea who are feeling the greatest impact of the climate crisis and yet are the least responsible for causing it. We do this by supporting programmes to improve agricultural productivity and increase incomes, under the umbrella of climate smart agriculture.

Vita’s climate smart agriculture programmes focus on adapting and building resilience to climate change. Climate-related climate risks to agriculture are increasing, particularly in low-income countries like Ethiopia and Eritrea.

Vita prioritises climate smart agriculture because we know from over thirty years work with rural communities that climate breakdown is not only a threat to food security, but the viability of entire rural economies and communities. For these reasons, climate smart agriculture is one of Vita’s key priorities.

Where possible, Vita also supports communities to contribute to carbon emission savings.

Seeds: Vita’s climate-smart agriculture supports the development of community-based seed multiplication systems for strategic food security crops to expand access to clean, high-yield and climate-appropriate seed varieties. So far Vita has worked on potatoes, vegetables and cereals such as millet and wheat, helping families to boost their income, improve food security and diversify their nutrition.

Vita promotes wider access to high yield potato and cereal seeds like pearl millet, wheat and highland maize. We do this through support for community-based seed multiplication systems. These high-yield seeds – which are suitable for local agro-ecological and climatic conditions – allow smallholder farmers to achieve higher yields, converting natural resources, labour and farm inputs into food more efficiently.

In this way Vita helps households to boost and diversify their incomes and food sources, contributing to improved food security and nutrition.

Potato: Vita has worked on potato programmes since 2011 sharing knowledge about potatoes from Ireland with our partners in Ethiopia and Eritrea. Potatoes have proved hardy and resilient, quick-maturing and can’t be rivalled in terms of calories produced vs natural resources required! Read more here 

Protecting the natural resource base: Vita’s approach to climate smart agriculture also emphasises the protection and restoration of the natural resource base. This includes community-managed land restoration techniques, forestry and landscape rehabilitation, and integrated soil fertility management. We are committed to looking after soil, water and trees in an integrated approach which makes efficient use of fertilizers and organic resources such as crop residues and compost, and tailors cropping systems to local conditions.

Water management: Making the most of limited water is critical- to irrigate crops and ensure groundwater sources are recharged. Tree plantingand physical structures (e.g. check dams, contour bunds, terracing) are important to ensure rainfall is harnessed by the land rather than lost in run-off, taking precious topsoil with it. This run off is doubly damaging as it diminishes the viability of local lakes and water courses.

Forestry management: Vita’s improved cookstove and water projects reduce demand for fuelwood; while this relieves the burden of fuelwood collection for households, tree and vegetation cover is also critical for conserving the soil and water that sustain a productive landscape.

Dairy: Vita also supports the development of climate-smart dairy systems that produce milk more efficiently and minimize greenhouse gas emissions. The climate-smart transformation of inclusive dairy value chains is a key component of Vita’s work, providing decent livelihood opportunities and greater availability of nutritious food for rural households.

Knowledge sharing: Vita’s approach to Climate Smart Agriculture involves working closely with research institutions, agricultural extension services and farmer’s groups to ensure households have sustainable access to the knowledge, technologies and resources necessary to adapt to climate change.

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