Sub-Saharan Africa ready to scale Climate-Smart Agriculture! Madrid, 06 December 2019

Against a background of a changing climate and its devastating effects, Sub Saharan Africa is now ready to scale Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) interventions. This was revealed at a multi-partner event that was held on the side-lines of the 2019 United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP25) in Madrid, Spain. 

The side event, held under the theme ‘Stepping Up Engagement Efforts in Sub-Saharan Africa to Catalyse Investments in Climate Action’ on the 6th of December 2019, focused on the need to mobilize financing to promote scaling up of proven CSA technologies and practices to ensure the resilience of Africa’s smallholder farmers against climate change. 

A theatre performance designed to amplify the voices of rural smallholder farmers who traditionally would not be able to participate in high level events such as the COP, set the stage for the event. As the lead organiser for the event, FANRPAN used Theatre for Policy Advocacy (TPA), a form of participatory theatre that encourages creativity and allows for local people’s participation in developing solutions to their problems. The TPA performance demonstrated how farmers in Africa have developed an appreciation of their challenges and developed related solutions, ready to scale. 

To reinforce the voice of the smallholder farmers, three investment pitches were presented for consideration. In a true demonstration of multi-partner collaboration, Dr Bruce Campbell, Director of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS); Dr Lefulesele Lebesa the Director in the Department of Agricultural Research in the Kingdom of Lesotho and Ms Sithembile Mwamakamba, the CSA Programmes Manager at the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis (FANRPAN) each presented an investment pitch, collectively aimed at supporting the upscaling of CSA in sub Saharan Africa

Speaking during his pitch, Dr Campbell clearly illustrated the challenge of the scale that is required if Africa is to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “We have to reach half a billion smallholder farmers; how can we do this in sub-Saharan Africa?” he asked the audience of over 40 international delegates as he proposed digitalizing agricultural transformation by offering service bundles consisting of agricultural advisories and risk insurance in southern Africa (SADC).

Dr Lefulesele Lebesa brought a government perspective to the proceedings. She presented the second pitch, focusing on building climate resilience by transforming crop and livestock production systems in southern Africa. Giving a view of projected impact, Dr Lebesa said, “By the fifth year of funding, we will have built the climate resilience of at least 1,500,000 smallholder farmers with at least 300,000 farm households practicing CSA on an additional 300,000 hectares, and at least 80,000 hectares of rangeland under improved grazing management”. 

Ms Sithembile Mwamakamba’s presentation of the third pitch was on harnessing the potential of plant genetic resources in enhancing climate change resilience among the rural farming communities in the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Speaking on behalf of SADC Plant Genetic Resource Centre, Ms Mwamakamba emphasized the need to restore the resource centre in the aftermath of the devastating effects of cyclones Idai and Kenneth. “Funding is required to restore the resource centre which over the years has collected and managed a catalogue of the region’s traditional landrace seed varieties, well known for  their heat and drought tolerance, nutrition content and adaptation to local conditions. 

As part of proceedings, a high level panel of experts was convened to respond to the presentation of pitches and the theatre performance. Panelists included,  Dr Martin Schuldes, the Head of Division for Climate Initiatives in the Federal German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ); Mr Riad Balaghi, the Director of Projects at the Adaptation of African Agriculture Initiative (AAA); Mr Jahan Chowdhury, the Country Engagement Director of the NDC Partnership; and Dr Evan Girvetz, Senior Scientist with the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT). In summary, the panellists hailed the TPA, and welcomed the pitches, with recommendations for the inclusion of clear private sector roles, and demonstration of bankability. Speaking during the panel, Dr Schuldes, reiterated the pre-requisites imperative for successful scaling. He said, “Scaling CSA requires a strong business case, but also an enabling environment and political will”. 

In his closing remarking, the FANRPAN Policy Champion and former Secretary General of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Honourable Sindiso Ngwenya celebrated the collaborative efforts that had brought the side event to life. He said, “Beyond the partnerships and collaboration, we are all aware that accelerating the transition to Climate Smart Agriculture by farmers calls for significant investment. The investment pitches presented here, and many others resultant from the various pilot projects on the continent are ripe and ready for scaling up”. He further noted that the investment pitches were not necessarily targeting new resources, but also called for a refocusing of existing funding to support pro-CSA scaling interventions.

It is the intention of the organisers that the investment pitches will trigger conversation and funding appetite among the development partners focusing on scaling up CSA in the region.  

The side event was organized by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis (FANRPAN) in partnership with the SADC Secretariat, the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA), the SADC/ Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH Adaptation to Climate Change in Rural Areas in Southern Africa (ACCRA) programme (implemented on behalf of German Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, BMZ), the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), CARE International, the Initiative for the Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) and the World Bank.

For more information, please contact:

Francis Hale, FANRPAN Director- Policy Advocacy and Communications;



Wednesday, April 1, 2020