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Investments in Climate-Smart Agriculture Innovations Can Increase Smallholder Farmers’ Resilience
November 15, 202214 min read

Investments in Climate-Smart Agriculture Innovations Can Increase Smallholder Farmers’ Resilience

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, EGYPT (Nov. 11, 2022) – According to a group of high-level global leaders speaking at a COP27 event co-hosted by Farm Journal Foundation and CGIAR, accelerated investments in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation, spearheaded through the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) initiative, will benefit smallholder farmers in developing countries in becoming more resilient against climate change.

AIM for Climate is a global initiative launched last November at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) by the United Arab Emirates and the United States. Supported by 42 government partners and 235 non-governmental partners such as international organizations, nonprofits, and private-sector companies, AIM for Climate today announced an increased investment of more than $8 billion, up from $4 billion at COP26, by partners in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation and a tripling of innovation sprints and partners since its launch.

Today’s panel featured high-level AIM for Climate partners, including its senior leadership: U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates, Samantha Power, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), Enock Chikava, Interim Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Helena M.Q. Semedo, Deputy Director of the UN Food & Agriculture Organization.

“A coordinated global response is the most logical answer to our current challenges, and this is where all the partnerships come into play. AIM for Climate is a unique and inclusive platform convening 42 government and over 235 non-government partners to advance innovation in climate-smart agriculture and food systems globally, and this will empower us to learn, adapt, and support best practices to empower smallholder farmers around the world, especially from marginalized communities. Equity and inclusion are critical to the success of AIM for Climate, and we will seek to create a dialogue and draw on diverse knowledge, experiences, and cultures so no one is left behind, be it a nation, community, or individual,” U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said at the event.”

“Climate change is rapidly upending the landscape for smallholder agriculture, negatively affecting crops as well as livestock. With over a quarter of the world’s population employed in agriculture, and women making up 50 percent of agricultural workers in developing countries, it is imperative to protect farmers’ livelihoods and the ecosystems they rely on while feeding a hungry world. We must focus on interventions that create better economic opportunities for resource-limited and marginalized people in rural communities, particularly women and youth,” said Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri.

The event announced new AIM for Climate “Innovation Sprints”, while dignitaries spotlighted the progress made against previously announced projects. Innovation Sprints are initiatives led and funded by partners to achieve a specific outcome or output in agricultural innovation. There are now 30 Innovation Sprints in total, aligning with one or more focal areas: small-holder farmers in low- and middle-income countries, emerging technologies, agroecological research and methane reduction. Learn more about the AIM for Climate Innovation Sprints here.

Claudia Sadoff, Executive Managing Director of CGIAR, the world’s largest global agricultural innovation network shared details on the ‘Digital resources for scaling up climate-informed agroecological transitions’ Innovation Sprint, which works on the Agroecological TRANSITIONS’ Inclusive Digital Tools project (ATDT). It aims to leverage $25 million to develop digital solutions for smallholder farmers to scale up agroecological practices. The program will expand access of low-cost digital technical advisories and performance assessment tools to 100K farmers in ten countries and five value chains in Asia, Africa and Latin America. This will enable farmer co-creation and rapid development of site-appropriate climate change resilience and mitigation measures based on agroecological principles.

“We risk losing more lives, deepening poverty, and entrenching inequalities if the global community does not take action to set targets and invest in adaptation to make communities and farmers more resilient to climate change. The level of ambition and commitment from AIM for Climate partners is an important and welcome step-up to accelerate climate adaptation for those that need it the most,” Sadoff said.

During the event, Justina Nixon-Saintil, IBM’s Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility and ESG, provided a progress summary and initial results of the first cohort of its IBM Sustainability Accelerator focused on sustainable agriculture. An AIM for Climate Innovation Sprint, the accelerator is a pro bono social impact program that applies IBM technologies, such as hybrid cloud and artificial intelligence, and an ecosystem of experts to enhance and scale nonprofit and government interventions to help populations that are vulnerable to climate change and other environmental threats. IBM will provide the first cohort of participating organizations with technology and expertise to accelerate climate-smart agriculture solutions. Through 2025, Accelerator projects will receive an estimated market value of $30 million in IBM support including $10 million focused on sustainable agriculture.

“It’s clear that there’s a need for more technical and institutional support for economically under-prioritized populations when it comes to bolstering our resilience in responding to climate change,” Nixon-Saintil said. “IBM is working to provide this support to local and regional organizations across the globe through the IBM Sustainability Accelerator. The model that IBM is developing helps invest in equitable and long-term solutions to environmental injustice, including solutions for smallholder farmers, which is one of our priorities for the program.”

Georgina Campbell Flatter, the Executive Director of TomorrowNow.org, announced ‘Climate Resilience For African Farmers Through Next Generation Weather Intelligence’ – a new innovation sprint undertaken by her organization, a nonprofit that aims to “close the global weather gap”, and advance early warning systems in the developing world. TomorrowNow.org, Tomorrow.io, and its partners are pioneering the Africa-first innovation spirit to empower 20 million smallholder farmers by 2025 with next-generation location-based timely agri-weather services. Together, they are building on established activities in Kenya to leverage $80 million in private sector investment and $20 million in transformative philanthropy to connect governments and local agricultural value chain partners with next-gen weather intelligence and lay the foundations for rapid scale and sustainability. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is a key partner of the innovation sprint, which works with the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organization (KALRO).

“We must act now to ensure those most in need and at risk of weather variability are able to adapt and thrive in our changing climate. Our innovation sprint brings together phenomenal partners from across the public, private and NGO sectors. By working better together, we are able to make a difference now while also ensuring sustainability for tomorrow,” Campbell Flatter said.

“It’s exciting to see African organizations like KALRO embrace advances in digital technologies and data analytics to reveal new pathways for agriculture adaptation,” said Enock Chikava, Interim Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. “This project will deliver tangible, detailed insights that will help farmers anticipate and respond to new or intensified threats caused by climate change.” 

USAID is also leading two innovation sprints. This first is a partnership with Bayer Crop Science and the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to improve the quality of life of smallholder rice farmers through the introduction, on-farm testing, and scaling of improved, climate-smart rice varieties that are sown directly in the field as opposed to the labor-intensive process of transplanting seedlings by hand. Bayer has committed up to $4 million of in-kind support and IRRI is leveraging funding from a USAID activity to participate.

The second innovation sprint is a partnership with USAID, ofi, Nestlé, Mars Wrigley, Costco Wholesale, Mondelēz International, and Blommer Chocolate Company have also launched RESTORE: “Resilient Ecosystems and Sustainable Transformation of Rural Economies”, that will help smallholder cocoa farmers use more climate-smart agricultural practices. ofi and partners are investing $7 million toward this effort that aims, by 2027, to support 15,000 cocoa farmers, of which at least 25 percent will be women; USAID’s West Africa Regional Mission is also matching this investment with $7 million.

“To fight hunger without accelerating climate change. Today, feeding the world, as you well know, emits nearly a third of all greenhouse gases – a number only set to rise as the global population approaches 10 billion. So, we must fundamentally change food systems to produce more while emitting less. To help do that, the United States is launching new partnerships with the private sector that will reduce the climate impacts of producing vital crops,” USAID Administrator Samantha Power said.”

 

About Farm Journal Foundation

Farm Journal Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to achieving global food security by sustaining modern agriculture’s leadership role and ability to meet the vital needs of a growing population. The organization works to advance this mission through key issue areas, including global food security, agricultural research and development, nutrition, and conservation agriculture. To learn more, visit www.farmjournalfoundation.org.

About AIM for Climate

The Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) is a voluntary global initiative that unites participants in support of a common GOAL: to significantly increase investment in and support for climate-smart-agriculture and food systems innovation over five years (2021-2025) to address global hunger, food security, and climate change. Led by the United States of America (U.S.) and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), AIM for Climate has united 42 governments and more than 235 non-governmental partners since it was launched at the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26).

AIM for Climate seeks to drive more rapid and transformative climate action in the agricultural sector, empowering agriculture to be part of the solution to address the climate crisis, build resilience to its impacts, and create co-benefits of climate action. AIM for Climate’s impact will aid climate mitigation, poverty alleviation, and agricultural adaptation, recognizing that smallholder farmers, especially women, and communities from low- and middle-income countries are most susceptible to the negative effects of climate change.

AIM for Climate government partners provide the crucial foundation of the initiative through a wave of new public investment in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation. But other sectors, including business, philanthropy, and other non-government partners, are invited to build upon that foundation with Innovation Sprints – investments in specific, impactful, expedited efforts – or by providing critical knowledge for identifying investment gaps, challenges, and opportunities for collaboration.