Research & Innovation 2015-16 - Page 95

First of its kind
This is the first provincial climate change policy for
agriculture in South Africa. The project specifically
focuses on food security and promotes climatesmart agriculture. It also aligns closely with the
current five-year provincial strategic plan and the
Department of Agriculture’s strategic goals. One of
the key goals is to optimise the sustainable use of
water and land resources to increase climate-smart
agricultural production.
The programme is premised on collaborative planning
and action within and between the public and private
sectors. This includes national, provincial and local
government. It also includes organised agriculture and
industry associations, farmers, agri-processors and
agri-business, labour and civil society, and research and
academic institutions. The project has thus far achieved
an understanding of expected climate risks and impacts
and vulnerabilities in agriculture. It has established the
important linkages between resource sectors, water,
energy and agricultural production. It also showed that
vulnerability is high across the sector.
One of the project’s key successes was a framework to
battle the harsh impact of climate change. Areas that
have a much milder climate and where climate change
will not be as dramatic have also been identified. These
may become the future centres of food production.
Capacity to adapt
There is existing capacity in the Western Cape’s
agricultural sector to adapt to the added stresses of
climate change. Local companies are already providing
energy-saving low-carbon solutions to farms and agribusinesses.
Leading wine estates have installed energy-saving
measures and systems for renewable energy generation.
The FruitLook project is using satellite images to help
fruit farmers increase their irrigation efficiency. These
solutions must be harnessed to stimulate innovation and
technology transfer for climate-change adaptation and
The resilience project hopes to ensure that the existing
response capacity is developed to its greatest potential.
It promotes responses that are practical, relevant and
locally implementable over various timescales and
The project has taken a strong spatial approach,
creating 23 spatial zones. This is because the risks and
impacts of climate change will differ widely across the
province. It is all dependent on climate, soils, vegetation
and farming systems.
Western marginal grain zones such as the ‘Rooi Karoo
- Aurora’ are expected to shift to livestock production.
This zone will become hotter and drier. Some zones
could benefit from mild warming and wetting, for
example the southern ‘GrootBrak-Plett’ zone.
The project proposes a focus on four strategic areas
with the aim to:
Promote a climate-resilient low-carbon production
system that is productive, competitive, equitable
and ecologically sustainable;
Strengthen effective climate disaster risk-reduction
and management for agriculture;
Strengthen monitoring, data and knowledge
management and sharing, and lead strategic
research for climate change and agriculture; and
Ensure good cooperative governance and joint
planning for effective climate change response
implementation for agriculture.
It is also important that climate-change considerations
be integrated into longer-term resource and economic
planning. Another round of stakeholder engagements
will ensure that the plan is realistic and implementable.
The project will be completed during March 2016.
By Stephanie Midgley, a researcher and project manager
in agriculture, food security and climate change at the
African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI).
Main image by Dave Bezaire, Flickr. This article first
appeared in The Conversation. Image above by World
Bank, Flickr.
Affordable, clean energy and climate action 90

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