Smallholder farmers are more than climate victims – says IFAD report

Lima, Peru – 3 December 2014 – Smallholder farmers in developing countries are more than victims of climate change; they are a vital part of the solution to global warming, according to a report from the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

The Smallholder Advantage, a report on IFAD’s response to climate change, shows how investments in access to weather information, technology transfer and disaster preparedness are helping smallholder women and men to feed themselves and their families on a warming planet – whilst restoring degraded ecosystems and reducing agriculture's carbon footprint.

“We see smallholder farmers as an important part of the solution to the climate change challenge,” said IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze. “With around 500 million smallholder farms responsible for around four-fifths of food supplies in developing countries, we recognize that rural women and men operate vital businesses on the climate frontline.”

“Small farmers often experience more extreme and unpredictable weather, yet they are among the least represented in national and global policymaking on climate change,” Nwanze added. “What IFAD emphasizes in the climate change debate is that smallholders are among the most effective clients for public funds for dealing with issues around climate change.”

The report draws on experiences from IFAD's Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP), which was launched in 2012 to make climate finance work for smallholder farmers. ASAP blends climate finance from multiple donors with large-scale agricultural investment programmes that are financed by IFAD and its partners.

ASAP has now become the world’s largest adaptation programme for smallholder farmers, with over US$350 million in pledges and contributions from nine bilateral donors. The programme will enable IFAD to increase the climate resilience of around eight million smallholder farmers, as well as utilize climate-smart agricultural practices on over one million hectares of land.

The Smallholder Advantage report shows that agricultural investment programmes can provide platforms for climate action. For example, in Bolivia IFAD is working with community groups to catalogue indigenous knowledge about natural resource management and blend it with innovative climate change adaptation strategies. In Yemen, IFAD has financed a climate risk analysis which is now informing the location and design of rural feeder roads. In Rwanda, IFAD is supporting the government to adopt improved building codes and renewable energy technology for post-harvest processing hubs, buffering the effects of extreme weather and pest infestations.

The report also shows that effective climate action can be about more than just technology – IFAD is investing in institutional capacity and policy dialogue to boost and sustain smallholder resilience. In addition, examples from Mali and Viet Nam illustrate how smallholders can be supported to engage in local and national planning processes.

“IFAD’s work demonstrates that investments that help farmers adapt to climate changes can improve family incomes, nutrition as well as be better for the environment,” said Nwanze.

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