Climate change adaptation and mitigation in smallholder crop–livestock systems in sub-Saharan Africa: a call for integrated impact assessments

Descheemaeke, D and Oosting, S J and Homann-Kee Tui, S and Masikati, P and Falconnier, G N and Giller, K E (2016) Climate change adaptation and mitigation in smallholder crop–livestock systems in sub-Saharan Africa: a call for integrated impact assessments. Regional Environmental Change, 16 (08). pp. 2331-2343. ISSN 1436-378X

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Abstract

African mixed crop–livestock systems are vulnerable to climate change and need to adapt in order to improve productivity and sustain people’s livelihoods. These smallholder systems are characterized by high greenhouse gas emission rates, but could play a role in their mitigation. Although the impact of climate change is projected to be large, many uncertainties persist, in particular with respect to impacts on livestock and grazing components, whole-farm dynamics and heterogeneous farm populations. We summarize the current understanding on impacts and vulnerability and highlight key knowledge gaps for the separate system components and the mixed farming systems as a whole. Numerous adaptation and mitigation options exist for crop–livestock systems. We provide an overview by distinguishing risk management, diversification and sustainable intensification strategies, and by focusing on the contribution to the three pillars of climate-smart agriculture. Despite the potential solutions, smallholders face major constraints at various scales, including small farm sizes, the lack of response to the proposed measures and the multi-functionality of the livestock herd. Major institutional barriers include poor access to markets and relevant knowledge, land tenure insecurity and the common property status of most grazing resources. These limit the adoption potential and hence the potential impact on resilience and mitigation. In order to effectively inform decision-making, we therefore call for integrated, system-oriented impact assessments and a realistic consideration of the adoption constraints in smallholder systems. Building on agricultural system model development, integrated impact assessments and scenario analyses can inform the co-design and implementation of adaptation and mitigation strategies.

Item Type: Article
Divisions: RP-Market Institutions and Policies
CRP: CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets
Uncontrolled Keywords: Farm size, Risk, Agricultural model, Farming systems analysis, Poverty, Food security, Climate Change, Livestock, sub-Saharan Africa
Subjects: Others > Climate change
Depositing User: Mr Ramesh K
Date Deposited: 11 Apr 2016 09:02
Last Modified: 03 Jan 2017 11:15
URI: http://oar.icrisat.org/id/eprint/9423
Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10113-016-0957-8
Projects: UNSPECIFIED
Funders: UNSPECIFIED
Acknowledgement: We would like to thank the support of DFID for the AgMIP Regional Integrated Assessment project in southern Africa, and of the McKnight Foundation for the project on Pathways to agro-ecological intensification in southern Mali.
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