Review of Research and Policies for Climate Change Adaptation in the Agriculture Sectors in Southern Africa
The study revealed that climate change presents an extra load of challenges in the formulation of responsive development policy frameworks to transform these agricultural and livelihood systems and enhance their productivity and resilience on a sustainable basis. It is clear that agriculture will continue to underpin major economic activities for regional countries, providing for food security, national employment and foreign exchange earnings into the foreseeable future. However, low and variable growth performance of the sector, against a growing farm-based population, raises major development concerns in the face of climate change. Major sources of climatic pressures in agriculture include increasing temperatures, shortening growing seasons and deteriorating rainfall distribution within seasons, as well as increasing frequencies of droughts. The region’s predominantly rain-fed agricultural sector traditionally suffers from lack of access to appropriate information, knowledge and improved production and processing technologies by different farmer categories. The predominantly smallholder farming communities currently drawn on indigenous knowledge systems, the strength of local institutions and traditional social safety nets to adapt to multiple stress factors including climate variability and change. However, there is limited empirical evidence on the robustness of these systems in supporting new forms of social collaborations and resolving conflicts arising from resource scarcity in the wake of climate change. It is therefore evident that climate change impacts will have ramifications beyond agriculture, influencing major areas of development that include: i) dynamics of rural-urban interconnections; ii) access and use patterns for major natural resource pools such as land, water and forests; iii) resource governance and social safety net systems; iv) access to marketing and trading opportunities; and v) redefined approaches for addressing HIV/AIDS, among other diseases, in agriculture. Comprehensive policy frameworks are therefore required to expand climate change adaptation horizons beyond the boundaries of current farming systems. However, there is no evidence on how current agriculture and climate change policy frameworks are able to address these multiple stress factors against the increasing risk and uncertainty of agriculture as a source of climate change adaptation. There are now increasing calls from diverse stakeholders for transformation of existing smallholder farms into commercially oriented and market-driven production systems. However, this will require structural and process changes in knowledge systems, technology development and delivery, institutions and policies.