“One group of people are really important in all this, but are almost invisible in global discussions on climate change – these are smallholder farmers,” says IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze. “Smallholders are on the front line of climate impacts, so require urgent action to increase their resilience to the climate crisis.”
Smallholder farmers may not be attending the climate negotiations in Bonn, but they are aware of the impact of climate change on their lives: more droughts, floods, hurricanes, extreme heat and sea level rise. Small farmers and their families across many developing countries are the hardest hit with little capacity to adapt.
“What smallholders need is recognition in global dialogues on climate change of the role they can and must play in the solution,” says Elwyn Grainger-Jones, Director of IFAD’s Environment and Climate Division.
“Add to that a major effort at country level to unlock smallholder farmer potential to adapt to the climate crisis while helping them transition from subsistence to profitable and sustainable entrepreneurs. IFAD will play its part in supporting this effort.”
IFAD takes this challenge seriously. Its new Adaptation for Smallholder Agriculture Programme (ASAP) is now the largest global fund dedicated to supporting the adaptation of poor smallholder farmers to climate change across the world.
By blending tried and tested ‘no regrets’ approaches to rural development with traditional and modern adaptation know-how, IFAD’s ASAP is adding to the climate resilience of around US$1billion per year of new investments from IFAD.
For example, in Kenya, Flexi-Biogas generators save rural families money, reduce deforestation and supply much needed power to their homes. In Burkina Faso, IFAD’s “Re-greening the Sahel” programme has fought back desertification resulting in improved crop yields, greater abilities to withstand droughts, and incomes for local communities.
“When future generations look back at us, they may sift through some missed opportunities,” adds Nwanze.
“Let’s not miss the opportunity of 500 million smallholder farms – with more than 2 billion people depending on them for their livelihood – to better withstand the shocks of climate change and lift themselves out of poverty.”
This article originally appeared in the allafrica.com 31/05/2013