By Stephanie Midgley
Due to climate change, the Western Cape farming landscape is at risk of losing much of its productivity. This threat requires intelligent and innovative responses. With the aim of creating sustainable, climate-smart responses for increased resilience in agriculture, the Western Cape departments of Agriculture and Environmental Affairs & Development Planning launched SmartAgri in August 2014. It is lead by the African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) at the University of Cape Town, and uses a highly collaborative approach. Project manager Stephanie Midgley explains that SmartAgri , “captures the understanding, experiences and needs of a wide range of stakeholders in the province.”
The first phase of SmartAgri focused on creating a Status Quo Assessment of impacts and responses to climate change in agriculture in the Western Cape. It is now complete and undergoing a review process that brings together the expertise of an interdisciplinary team of scientists. The review is intended to assess the agricultural sector of the province from different angles in order to develop a holistic understanding of how climate change will affect the region.
The team found that the Western Cape will likely remain a strong agricultural region, at least in the near to medium term. It is likely that there will be ‘winners’ and ‘losers’ and the sector, together with government, needs to identify and provide support to the latter. The next phase of the SmartAgri project will involve developing a Climate Change Response Framework and Implementation Plan, with the aim of providing mechanisms for such support.
Smallholder and commercial farmers and their support networks are invited to contribute their knowledge.
The report and comment form is available on the SmartAgri page on the ACDI website: http://www.acdi.uct.ac.za/research/smartagri
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