The Development FundSupports small scale farmers in their fight against hunger and poverty
Julie Lunde Lillesæter, Sør i fokus

Climate Robust Farming

Small-scale farmers increasingly experience unpredictable and severe weather. This means higher risk of reduced production and crop failure. As a result, they can be caught in chronic poverty, indebtedness and eventually complex social problems.

Small-scale farmers make up over half of the world poor and are responsible to produce a large part of the food that feed the population in poor countries. Therefore, it is crucial to reduce the vulnerability to climate change of small-scale farmers. 
 
The Development Fund´s approach to reduce vulnerability of poor farmers is multi-pronged. It includes diversification, seed security, improving resource base, knowledge and policies.
 
Diversifying
Diversification is the key to reduce vulnerability for small-scale farmers. Farmers are supported to diversify the risk by not relying on only one or two crops for their livelihood. In addition, use of diverse varieties of the main crops is promoted to increase robustness against pests, diseases or unpredictable climate. Mixing of crop and animal husbandry is also encouraged.
 
Access to good quality seeds
To have good yields, farmers must have access to good seeds at the right time. The Development Fund supports community seed production and improvement, as well as conservation of indigenous seeds, which are well adapted to local environment. Participatory plant breeding programs in Asia and Central America have produced new stable varieties that suit local conditions.
 
Community seed bank
Crisis in poor farm production often relates to lack of seeds to sow for the next season. Drought, flood or pests can destroy seeds.  Farm families may be forced to eat up the grains meant for seeds. These situations can kick start vicious cycle of indebtedness and poverty in the families of poor farmers.  Community seed bank is a storage space in a community where farmers store seeds collectively. Community seed bank functions as an insurance for farmers in time of crisis and as a place where local genetic diversity is conserved.
 
Improving Resources
 
Soil and water are essential for farming. Small farmers depend on access to water and good soil in order to have stable production.  Because of this, the Development Fund supports soil improvement techniques in all its projects. Watershed conservation, mulching, erosion control, composting, small-scale irrigation, conservation farming techniques are some of the methods that are being promoted. Because many small farmers depend on forest resources, agroforestry and forest regeneration and conservation are also promoted.
 
Climate Adapted Village (CAV)
 
Since 2012, the Development Fund pilots a model to increase the knowledge of small farming communities on the impacts of climate change through simplified steps of: To know; To do; and To sustain. The communities are facilitated to identify factors, which cause vulnerability and prioritize what action they want to take to reduce that vulnerability. Communities receive a small fund to implement the actions on the condition that the fund is managed in ways that can sustain the efforts in the long-run without additional supports from projects. The model is proven workable and will be integrated in the normal projects run by the Development Fund.
 
Adaptation that gears towards women´s need
 
Women often are affected by climate change differently than men because of their role in the farm and in the family. The Development Fund supports initiatives that take into account women´s concerns. This includes initiatives to reduce the burden on firewood collection, water collection and improving women´s health and economics. Introduction of improved stoves, drinking water filter and vegetable productions are some of the initiatives geared towards women´s needs.
 
Policy Advocacy
 
Farmers alone cannot rescue agriculture from the impacts of climate change. Government and policy makers must implement policies that strengthen small farmers´ adaptive capacity. The Development Fund supports farmers to act collectively through farmer organisations or cooperative and engage with policy makers local and national.