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Vuna looks for innovation models for climate-smart agriculture

Vuna commissioned a climate-smart agricultural (CSA) innovation models impact analysis that aims to assess select Vuna Agriculture Development Facility (ADF) projects to identify intervention pathways to sustained climate resilience at scale.

Supporting a transition of current farming systems towards climate resilience is among the most pressing challenges of our generation. Effective measures to sustainably increase productivity and incomes, and build resilience in farming systems, particularly those of smallholders, are key priorities.

CSA is foremost among the approaches with which to tackle the threats from a changing climate. This term has been formally defined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) as consisting of three components:

  • Sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and incomes;
  • Adapting and building resilience to climate change; and
  • Reducing and/or removing greenhouse gases emissions, where possible

This project sought to contribute to building a knowledge base for better design and implementation of sustainable and impactful CSA interventions at scale, particularly in smallholder systems. If CSA is to be adopted at the required pace and scale, more effective models for taking promising technologies and practices to farmers are needed.

The project deepened the understanding of what works, and under what conditions, in promoting the adoption of CSA. Many of the models that were assessed had a strong private-sector orientation, in line with a recent shift towards a business approach in building resilient farmers.

Genesis led the design and implementation of this project, assessing various models in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It developed a series of innovation and thematic papers, good practice notes and one synthesis paper. These made a case for better approaches to designing private-sector-led programmes that accelerated the adoption of CSA practices and technologies in East and Southern Africa.

The research focused on a subset of Vuna innovation models operating across five thematic areas: extension services, finance, livestock, out-growers, and seed systems.

The CSA models impact analysis delivered three sets of papers:

• Five in-depth research papers that assess (a) the innovation model’s contribution to building farmer and market resilience to climate risks; (b) the innovation model’s potential for replication and scale-up; and (c) the model’s success drivers, or drawbacks and the conditions under which future interventions can achieve greater impacts.

• Three thematic papers that categorise CSA innovation model typologies in the relevant thematic areas in order to understand (a) the different typologies relative contribution to building farm and market resilience, sustainably and at scale; (b) the typologies’ drivers of success or drawbacks; (c) the conditions under which future innovation models could achieve greater impact.

• One synthesis paper on the factors that contributed to innovation model’s success in building resilience, sustainably and at scale, including recommendations to inform the design of future climate smart agricultural programmes.

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