Climate change is experienced as longer dry periods, unpredictable rainy seasons and flooding. In addition, new diseases that attack agricultural crops have appeared. Farmers lack knowledge about how to adapt to a more unpredictable climate. Their one-sided food production makes them particularly vulnerable in case of crop failure. The seeds they sow are often of inferior quality and not adapted to local conditions. The farmers also lack knowledge of how to combat new diseases that attack and destroy their crops. The limited area available for agriculture has led to increasing pressure on the forest regions. Deforestation has, among other things, led to soil depletion and the drying out of water sources, with negative effects on food production.
Thanks to the model farmer method, tens of thousands of farmers receive training in climate-smart agriculture. This comprises, e.g., various techniques for conserving the humidity and nutrient content of the soil, and for mixed-crop farming with several species in the same field. We combine tree planting and food production by planting fruit trees. Access to manure from their own animals makes it possible for farmers to add extra nutrients to the soil. We also develop simple irrigation systems, to make farmers less vulnerable to long periods of drought.
Secure and stable access to high-quality seed is important for any farmer. In Malawi, we are establishing seed banks, where farmers can store their seed and other farmers can borrow seed in case their crops are lost. The seed banks allow farmers to collect various seed varieties, test them and compare them with each other. Such participatory selection of seed allows farmers to choose varieties that best suit their fields. By conserving seed diversity the farmers ensure that they will have access – now and in the future – to new plant varieties that are better able to survive new weather conditions and diseases.
We make use of a participatory method for climate adaptation on a village level. The Development Fund has developed its own method for climate-adapted villages, which builds on the conviction that local communities themselves know best how climate change affects them. The model makes use of participatory methods in vulnerability analyses, which are in turn used to identify and prioritize measures to be implemented. To ensure that the measures are carried through and secure their long-term sustainability, we cooperate with local communities and with the authorities to provide local financing of climate change measures.