About 2% of the Growth Domestic Product (GDP) in South Africa comes from agriculture. Although agriculture contributes a small percentage to the GDP, it is an essential economic growth engine. Climate change adversely affects agriculture due to the lack of water and increased heat stress on plants and animals. Farmers are experiencing weather and water variability, reduced land arability and pastoral pastures, and short growing seasons, thus affecting crop and animal production. Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) practices were introduced to farmers, and these practices were successful because they embrace mitigation and adaptation strategies. Implementing the CSA in South Africa supports the country’s transition to an inclusive green economy. The CSA practices help farmers to cope and as well as to mitigate climate change.
For example, the Leliefontein local farmers struggled to adapt to increased weather and water variability, resulting in the loss of livestock. Since many farmers struggled to cope with climate change, the Ministry of Agriculture, local non-government organizations, and community cooperatives have partnered to increase livestock resilience and improve land management. The project introduced an integrated approach to creating more resilient livestock breeds, sustainable rangeland management, and excellent livestock management practices such as vaccinations, dipping, and medicating, yielding healthier and resilient livestock.
The project helped farmers to introduce breeds that were more resilient to heat and disease, which can graze non-selectively and finally with good grades. This project also enhances local farmers’ skills and knowledge to cope with climate change by improving grazing practices and land health. Grazing practices, including grazing rotation, have allowed most overgrazed areas to recover, reducing soil erosion and water retention and increasing livestock food and water availability. The project also helped the community to de-silt about five dams, improving livestock storage and availability. As a result, these improved livestock breeds and the resilience of farmers in the Leliefontein area.
LEARN MORE REFERENCES
- Merrill, T., and Soal, S., 2021. Community-Based Climate Change Adaptation: What does success look like? Case Study 8. Small Grants Facility project. SouthSouthNorth.
- Actionable guidelines for the implementation of climate-smart agriculture in South Africa. Volume 2: Climate Smart Agri-culture Practices
- DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES, CLIMATE CHANGE SECTOR PLAN FOR AGRICULTURE, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES GOVERNMENT GAZETTE, 3 JUNE 2015
This Post was submitted by Climate Scorecard South Africa Country Manager Rugare Zhou.