The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) reports that about 500 million smallholder farms around the world provide livelihoods for more than 2 billion people and produce about 80% of the food in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. In Africa, smallholder farmers consist of 70% of the population, making up the largest private sector group that provides livelihoods and offer job creation. Its contribution has significant implications for food security and poverty reduction in the region.
However, farmers in Africa are still heavily reliant on rain-fed agriculture, therefore vulnerable to climate change due to high levels of poverty. This is aggravated by lack of skilled labor, physical human capital, and poor infrastructure.
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) puts great emphasis on mitigation efforts to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and creating carbon sinks. Despite this, the impact on climate change is still a threat to agriculture. In this regard, developing adaptation mechanisms to deal with the negative effects of climate change should be given a high priority.
To address the dire need for food security and develop the capacity to adapt to climate change, agriculture in Africa is undergoing a major technological transformation.The Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) is a new farming model developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to address food security, integrate ecosystems management and climate change challenges.
Though climate-smart Agriculture aims to mitigate the effects of climate change by sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes, adapting and building resilience to climate change and incorporating farming activities that reduce greenhouse gases emissions should also be prioritized.
Kenya is among African countries that are highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. There is growing concern over the potential stress on vulnerable ecosystems and rural communities. This is especially the case in the arid and semi-arid agro-ecological areas and some humid highland areas of the country.
In line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), smart farming enables smallholder farmers to effectively manage land and water resources in fragile ecosystems while increasing their productivity. Smart farming is clearly becoming a strategy to transform and sustain food production and build resilience to climate change.
Smart farming incorporates land, water, and sustainable management by conserving ecosystems, providing healthy surface water and groundwater as well as food, fodder, and fiber. Thus, agriculture in the African continent will thrive well according to UN weather predictions. Evidently, sustainable farming, is one of the most effective and equitable strategies for environmental conservation, reducing poverty and improving food security in developing countries.
Adopting smart farming accelerates resiliency to the growing threats of climate change and food insecurity in addition to increasing the availability and accessibility to fresh water, through water harvesting, storage, management, and retention, in addition to conservation of soil moisture. Smart farming also maximizes productivity per unit area through the production of more food per unit of water used through boosting rain fed agriculture and managing climate-induced water variability through supplementary irrigation. The uptake of improved agricultural and water management technologies and income diversification strategies would translate into improved sources of livelihood.