Embracing mosaic and multiverse approaches in farmer-centred co-creation for African agriculture

Embracing mosaic and multiverse approaches in farmer-centred co-creation for African agriculture

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Date: 22nd November 2023
Author: Phatsimo Rahman
Type: Feature
Organisation: SouthSouthNorth
Country: Africa

The Africa Regional Resilience Hub, led by SouthSouthNorth (SSN), is a crucial component of the COP28 Resilience Hub. Along with several other regions, the Regional Hubs work to amplify regional voices to global decision-making spaces, with a particular focus on communities and underrepresented and lesser heard voices. This feature forms part of the Africa Regional Hubs efforts in this regard. The COP28 Resilience Hub events are all hybrid and allow for virtual attendance and participation. Register here for the Resilience Hub virtual platform.

This feature is informed by insights gathered from a comprehensive review conducted through extensive cross-consultation and communication between the Africa Research and Impact Network (ARIN) and the Adaptation Research Alliance (ARA). The content is derived from an internal desk report prepared by ARIN for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, contributing to the development of a new program focused on smallholder agriculture. This post first appeared on the SouthSouthNorth website.

Agriculture in Africa has long been influenced by historical colonial policies and governance, leaving a legacy of export-oriented and energy-intensive industrial farming practices. However, to effectively combat climate change and environmental crises, a paradigm shift is needed. The sector demands a mosaic of strategies, with farmer-centred approaches like agroecology and regenerative farming at the forefront, to reshape agricultural, environmental, food and energy policies.

Capitalising on existing knowledge systems

Efforts to introduce and adopt innovative technologies and policies such as Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) should carefully integrate local farmers’ knowledge. Neglecting the indigenous wisdom of farmers in the CSA discourse has contributed to its limited uptake among African smallholder farmers, despite the potential economic and environmental benefits it offers. Multiple barriers, including diverse farming systems, financial constraints, input costs and technological limitations, hinder the widespread adoption of CSA.

Leveraging indigenous and scientific knowledge

Climate variability and change are compelling smallholder farmers to utilise indigenous knowledge for adaptation. Indigenous knowledge, deeply rooted in communities, encompasses vital insights into seasonal weather prediction, rainfall patterns, grain preservation and farming techniques. The convergence of local and scientific knowledge is crucial in fostering syncretic agronomical wisdom among farmers, aiding them in adapting to the impacts of climate change. Ethno-agricultural practices underscore the importance of indigenous knowledge as an integral part of farmers’ socio-economic lifestyle. A pragmatic approach involves integrating both traditional and modern farming practices to ensure sustainable agriculture.

To achieve sustainable agricultural practices in Africa, acknowledging the value of indigenous knowledge and farmer-centric approaches is paramount. A mosaic and multiverse approach that incorporates traditional wisdom alongside modern scientific insights can unlock the true potential of African agriculture. It’s essential to bridge the gap between knowledge systems, fostering a collaborative environment where farmers, researchers and policymakers work together to co-create solutions for a more resilient and sustainable agricultural future.

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