Climate Smart Agriculture


Climate change has already begun to affect agricultural systems worldwide, with rising temperatures, unpredictable weather patterns, and changing precipitation levels causing significant damage to crop and livestock.

 To understand what exactly “climate smart agriculture” is we first need to understand the concept of climate change and its impact on agriculture and then develop an insight regarding climate smart agriculture.

Image source- BBC

Climate Crisis and agriculture

Climate change and agriculture have a complex relationship. The increasing “masked devastating” impacts of climate discussed above are just a signal to turn on our “environment emergency intellect”. As the mere existence of the entire human civilization has been on the bedrock of agriculture.

1.     Impact of rising temperature:

High temperatures cause loss of crop yield and quality. High temperatures lead to heat stress in crops and can cause crop failures. Results from various experiments have shown that without effective fertilization, various adaptive methods and genetic improvements the each degree-Celsius increase in global mean temperature would, on average, reduce global yields of wheat by 6.0%, rice by 3.2%, maize by 7.4%, and soybean by 3.1%.

Meteorological records show that mean annual temperatures over areas where wheat, rice, maize, and soybean are grown have increased by 1 °C during the last century and are expected to continue to increase over the next century more so if greenhouse gas emissions continue to increase.

2.     Changing rainfall patterns and season shifts:

Shifting of seasons and changes in rainfall patterns have a huge impact on the planting dates, growing seasons, harvesting timings which can in the larger picture hamper food security, cause shift in demand-supply paradigm even leading to economic downturns. 

The impact of this is very region specific for example in parts of the United States, warmer temperatures have led to longer growing seasons for some crops, such as corn and soybeans, resulting in higher yields. On the contrary in parts of East Africa, changing rainfall patterns have led to prolonged dry spells and shorter rainy seasons, which have affected crop yields and food security.

3.     Changing pest infestation patterns:

The major way through which climate change will impact pest infestation patterns is by altering temperature and humidity conditions Warmer temperatures can increase the rate of reproduction and development of many pest species, while also expanding their range to new areas. In addition, changes in precipitation patterns can also influence pest abundance and distribution, as some pests are more sensitive to moisture and humidity conditions.

 In recent times the explosion in the population of mountain pine beetles in western North America. caused significant damage to pine forests, killing off millions of trees and leaving large swaths of dead forest behind as a result of warmer and drier climate. Another example of the fall armyworm, a pest native to the Americas, has recently been detected in Africa, where it is causing significant damage to maize crops. 

Scientists believe that the pest was likely introduced to the region through global trade and is now thriving in the warmer, more humid conditions that are becoming more common due to climate change.