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Policy brief: opportunities and challenges for climate-smart agriculture in Africa

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Ensuring food security under a changing climate is a major challenges to African countries because their agriculture is so highly vulnerable. To attain poverty alleviation and food security goals, the continent will have to adopt strong measures and will require financing to support them. Adaptation measures should be able to enhance food security and potentially contribute to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture. This policy brief delves into how climate-smart agriculture offers triple wins for food security, adaptation and mitigation. The policy brief highlights the following ways that agriculture can contribute to mitigation of climate change:

avoiding further deforestation and conversion of grasslands and wetlands
increasing the storage of carbon in vegetation and soil
reducing current, and avoiding future, increases in emissions from nitrous oxide and from methane.

The policy paper states that COP17 in Durban offers a chance for Africa to shape the global climate negotiations as per the following key deliverables:

an agriculture work programme under SBSTA that covers both adaptation and mitigation which is informed by science to enhance the role of agriculture in achieving synergies between adaptation, mitigation and food security
text that makes crops and pasture eligible under the Clean Development Mechanism of the Kyoto Protocol.

The paper recommends that early action for climate-smart agriculture should involve:

heightened attention in African policy processes and strategies, from national to regional levels
early action to identify and scale up best practice, to build capacity and experience, and to help clarify future choices
considerable public and private finance to implement it
taking stock of existing good practices, demonstrating the economic feasibility of these practices in different locales, and identifying what is needed to maintain and expand them
creating learning hubs, regional platforms and other awareness-building and technical support mechanisms to increase innovation and adoption of practices
testing monitoring, reporting and verification methods for agriculture
piloting and scaling up market-based mechanisms for mitigation
early action to improve the viability, scope and accessibility of agricultural options for climate change adaptation
creation of national and regional knowledge networks for the identification and dissemination of climate-smart agricultural practices and technologies
continued research is to increasing productivity while reducing the ecological footprint of agriculture.