Climate change poses a huge threat to smallholder farmers, their communities and the world. Smallholders make up 70% of the world’s extreme poor and their entire livelihood is dependent on an acre or two of land. The latest report from the UN special panel on climate change (the IPCC) shows that in Africa alone, climate change has already reduced agriculture productivity growth by 34% since 1961 – and this is going to get worse without action.
That’s why today we’re launching a 10-year climate strategy committed to building the resilience of these farmers in the face of a changing climate. The strategy will focus on the following goals:
Reliably increase average farm income by intensifying crop density and diversity
We can do this by helping smallholder farmers harvest more from their land by providing seeds and fertilizer tailored to their specific needs, encouraging farmers to plant a mixture of crops together (a practice known as intercropping), providing tailored agricultural training and advice aimed specifically at tackling climate-related issues - including pest management - and supporting all the farmers we serve get better access to markets where they can sell their produce.
Prioritize work to tackle soil degradation
We can do this by equipping farmers with the right knowledge, tools and techniques to actively prevent erosion on their land, and restore soil fertility via practices such as composting and lime application. A big part of this work involves running collaborative community-level campaigns aimed at improving understanding around soil health and encouraging farmers to change their typical behavior and adopt techniques that are better for their soil.
Significantly decrease deforestation in our areas of operation through farmer-led tree planting that returns real value to farm families
We can do this by incentivising every farmer we serve to plant a mixture of timber and fruit trees on their land and manage their trees sustainably. This is known as agroforestry and offers a path to sustainable profits - in the long and short term, while also helping the environment.
Ensure that farmers and their families are more resilient to income shocks and can consistently meet their basic needs
We can do this by providing smallholder farmers with improved insurance products that act as safety nets in seasons when yields are low due to weather events, by helping farmers obtain more secure land tenure or ownership, and continuing to equip farmers to plant trees which provide secure assets.
"The future farm training improves soil fertility and maize does well in the field with the trees. We also learn to use the maize stalks on the soil because it helps retain moisture and soil fertility. Overall these practices lead to bumper harvests."
– Lucy from Chiradzulu District, Malawi
Find out more about our climate resilience building work, including our efforts at COP27 to get smallholders higher up the climate change agenda.