Small scale livestock farmers learn to adapt to climate change

On 09-10 March 2017, the SADC Climate Change in Agriculture (ACCRA) programme took part in a workshop organized by Agribusiness Forum Botswana to educate small scale livestock farmers on adaptation and resilience to climate change. The workshop was attended by educators of the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN, Birdlife Botswana, Techno Feeds Botswana and small scale livestock farmers among others. The Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA) was represented by the ACCRA programme

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Ms Sarah Beerhalter presenting effects of Climate Change to Farmers in Botswana

Speaking at the workshop Mrs Sarah Beerhalter, the Programme Manager for ACCRA, talked to participants about improving agricultural production in the face of climate change. She indicated that climate change is real, as seen in the region by increasing drought frequencies and intensities, rising temperatures and other weather extremes such as cyclones and floods. The global population is on the increase and farmers are faced with a challenge of feeding more people under more challenging conditions for production.

Mrs Beerhalter indicated that farmers are both victims and culprits of climate change. The current methods of agricultural production and processing are contributing to climate change. But if farmers do not adapt to changing environments, southern Africa is likely to face severe food shortages in the future. The last season (2015-16) was particularly bad and officially declared as regional drought disaster, as 40 million people were food insecure.

SADC, CCARDESA and GIZ through the ACCRA programme are supporting climate change adaptation in the agricultural sector through facilitating knowledge dissemination on climate change and climate smart agriculture and through climate proofing agricultural value chains. To that end CCARDESA developed a platform for sharing best practices and other knowledge products on climate change and climate smart agriculture.

Other presentations at the event included the director of Birdlife Botswana who indicated that climate change pose a threat to achieving the sustainable development goals worldwide. Ms Hunter from Techno Feeds and Professor Tsopito from BUAN taught farmers how to manage livestock during dry season. Ms Hunter’s presentation focused on feeding and knowing when and how to provide feed supplements during dry seasons. In his presentation Prof Tsopito explained the term “dry season”, characteristics of dry season and how animals behave in dry season. He explained farmers’ approaches of responding to dry seasons in the context of animal breeding, nutrition, health, housing, and marketing.

Climate smart practices adopted by one or two farmers do not have much impact unless knowledge, best practices and experiences are shared between farmers and among countries for widespread adoption and learning. Mr Zengenene from the ACCRA programme presented initiatives which CCARDESA and GIZ are adopting to facilitate linkages and knowledge sharing in southern Africa.  He invited participants to the Southern African Agricultural Information and Knowledge platform (SAAIKS), a system which was developed to facilitate sharing of knowledge products across the SADC region.

Mr Makoko from Agribusiness Forum Botswana presented the Agricultural Information and Early Warning Information System (AMEWI), a system to share agricultural information through a website, a mobile application and simple messages. Market information and weather forecasts are also shared through AMEWI.

Access all presentations HERE

This article was written by Dydimus Zengenene,  Advisor for Information Communication and Knowledge Management (ICKM) for the ACCRA project based at CCARDESA

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