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Local solutions to global problems: the potential of agroforestry for climate change adaptation and mitigation in southern Africa

"Climate change is a global phenomenon that imposes economic, social, and ecological challenges to the global community and, to smallholder farmers particularly in low income countries. Sustainable land use practices offer opportunities for smallholder farmers to adapt to climate change and related risks, but the challenge is that the adoption of such practices by farmers is low due to policy and institutional constraints, among other key reasons. Drawing from the lessons learnt from research and development activities for about two decades in Malawi and Zambia, this paper uses the case study of agroforestry-based land use practices (fertilizer tree/shrubs) to highlight opportunities for assisting smallholder farmers respond to the effects of climate change. It then discusses institutional and policy challenges that constrain the full exploitation of the potential opportunities in southern Africa region. Strategies to address these constraints and facilitate adoption of sustainable land use practices that enhance climate change adaptation and mitigation are identified. These include targeted and conditional reward mechanisms for promoting sustainable agricultural practices that contribute to climate change adaptation among farming communities, appraisal of national and regional policies to evaluate the extent to which they are consistent with climate change adaptation, equipping new graduates and re-tooling extension officials with knowledge to respond to climate change phenomenon, and initiating science-policy linkages to bridge information gap on climate change between scientists and policy makers. It is recommended that climate change and food security are linked and should not be addressed in isolation. In the low-income, food-deficit regions, responses to climate change should be viewed from the perspective of livelihood, especially food security considerations."
Ajayi OC, Akinnifesi FK, Sileshi G, Chakeredza S, Mn’gomba S, Ajayi O, Nyoka I and Chineke T
World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), P.O. Box 30798, Lilongwe 03, Malawi , Imo State University, Owerri, Nigeria
Input By: 
Swaroopa Lahiri
Case Studies