Adopting Climate-Smart Agriculture to Strengthen Resilience in Ethiopia
This post is written by Yonas Tafesse and Girma Ayele, IWMI-Ethiopia.
Agriculture is the main economic activity for a majority of people in Ethiopia. However, it is vulnerable to climate change and its impacts as the country’s agriculture is mostly traditional and rain-fed. Traditional agriculture is mostly practiced by smallholder farmers.
It is estimated that climate change is expected to reduce Ethiopia's gross domestic product by 8 to 10 percent by 2050, but adaptation measures could reduce the impacts of climate change by 50 percent. This indicates that farmers in developing nations need to strengthen their resilience to climate change-related risks by adopting diverse adaptation strategies.
The Central Rift Valley of Ethiopia is a region characterized by climate variables such as increased temperature, reduced rainfall, reduced crop yield, and threatened food security. To benefit smallholder farmers in dry regions such as the Central Rift Valley, climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices need to be water smart. CSA practices comprise a wide range of activities, but the most common practices consist of crop rotation, pest resistance, drought-tolerant varieties, early maturing crop varieties, soil fertility management, irrigation, compost, soil and water conservation, water harvesting intercropping, conservation tillage and soil nutrient management.
According to Dr. Amare Haileslassie, Principal Researcher at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI), these practices, by some means, are related to efficient water use, water saving and productive use of water.
A Project with CSA Component
A project known as Growth for the Future (G4F) was formulated by a consortium of five non-governmental organizations including Farm Africa (lead partner), SOS Sahel Ethiopia, IWMI, Population Health and Environment Ethiopia Consortium (PHE EC), and Sustainable Environment and Development Action (SEDA). The G4F project is funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA). The practice of CSA has been identified as one of the key interventions of the project.
To encourage the adoption of CSA practices by smallholder farmers, the project has conducted capacity building activities at existing farmer training centers (FTCs) in intervention areas. This enabled the project to reach a large number of farmers at a low cost and share knowledge with them about technologies and techniques.
Following implementation of the G4F project, Demelash Tesfaye, who is a field project coordinator of Farm Africa, indicated that the combination of two or more CSA practices was adopted by 2,078 households and implemented on 520 hectares of farmland. Hussein Urgesa from the Adami Tulu District Agriculture office also explained that smallholder farmers in the area commonly applied varieties of CSA practices clustered under cereal crops or vegetables.
CSA Practices Improve Cereal and Vegetable Production
Official reports of the G4F project indicate that the average productivity of Teff (staple crop) increased from 870 to 1,100 kilograms per hectare while the productivity of wheat increased from 2,620 to 2,940 kilograms per hectare. The average productivity of maize increased from 7,700 to 8,225 kilograms per hectare.
Hussien said that the productivity of haricot beans was commonly 400 kilograms per hectare under traditional agricultural practices, but this has significantly improved (2400 kgs/ha) because of CSA practices.
These results in relation to the adoption of CSA approaches are mainly related to irrigation, including the use of solar pumps. Tilmo Mama, a Farm Africa Expert, stated that irrigation activity could be one of the CSA practices that fundamentally improve the livelihoods of the community. In this regard, the G4F project provided water-lifting technologies, including solar and treadle pumps, to enable farmers to responsibly use groundwater for the cultivation of vegetables and fruits. IWMI and Farm Africa provided 30 solar water pumps while 28 farmers bought solar pumps on their own.
Mohamed Seid, a farmer from Adami Tulu Kombolcha Woreda, said that he received a solar pump generator and training from the G4F project and started producing vegetables by making efficient use of underground water. He has 200 square meters of land and produces tomatoes, cabbage, beetroot, and carrots using irrigation water and CSA practices such as using compost and high-yield crop varieties. He reported that he obtained about 250,000 birr (USD 4,584) in a year from his farming activities, in addition to fulfilling the nutrition needs of his family.
Feyisa Robaa is another farmer who is supported by the G4F project and started planting papaya, avocado, lettuce and tomatoes on 1,000 square meters of land. His 100 papaya trees have started yielding good harvests, generating a revenue of 500,000 birr (USD 9,168) in a year.
“Through the G4F project, we have found that CSA practices not only contribute to food and nutritional security, but also reduces multidimensional poverty and greenhouse gas emissions, which are in line with Ethiopia’s Climate-Resilient Green Economy Strategy,” said Dr. Amare.