Developing climate smart agriculture: Insights from Indonesia, Vietnam, Malawi and Ireland
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The present and future challenges to agricultural development and food security are immense. The agricultural sector is a significant driver of climate change, but at the same time, is highly vulnerable to its impacts. Climate smart agriculture is a framework for sustainable agricultural development, which has been touted as having significant potential to enhance the development of climate resilient pathways for agriculture, while at the same time taking advantage of opportunities to enhance mitigation. However, considering the relative newness of the concept, there is still much research needed with regards to its development at both local and national levels. This thesis attempts to contribute to the development of climate smart agriculture along three main themes: (i) planning and development, (ii) adaptation and (iii) mitigation. From a supranational perspective, the research contributes to the enhancement of indicators for climate smart agriculture, while at the national level, the research contributes to the literature with regards to benefits and co benefits of national afforestation policy. Locally, the research explores the drivers of local adaptation and the gender disparities in knowledge extension. Broadly speaking, the research draws upon the climate smart agriculture framework to analyse context specific challenges related to planning and development, adaptation and mitigation. In addition, mixed qualitative and descriptive analysis are employed to data related to context specific studies in Indonesia, Vietnam, Malawi and Ireland. The analysis related to planning and development focuses on agroforestry’s impact on food security in the climate vulnerable region of Indonesia. In addition, the research contributes to future planning and development through the assessment of current indicators that can be usefully repurposed for climate smart agriculture to better consider impacts with regards to gender and livelihoods, food security, nutrition and health. From an adaptation perspective, the analysis is focused local drivers of planned and household adaptation in Vietnam and the gender disparities in knowledge acquisition post agroforestry extension in Malawi. Lastly, the mitigation theme examines the impact of afforestation at the national level over a 20-year period in Ireland. Further, the research also estimates the carbon sequestration benefit of afforestation replacing livestock in Ireland. Findings related to the planning and development research theme highlight the positive impact of both traditional and commercial agroforestry in Indonesia, though the lack of specific focus on food security in the studies available, along with the lack of geographic variety, means substantial research is still needed. The repurposing of indicators for climate smart agriculture results in a useful starting point for greater consideration of gender and livelihoods, food security, nutrition and health. It also highlights that it may not be necessary to develop more indicators, but there are significant modification and improvements, in terms of quality and collection, necessary in order that existing indicators be considered useful in terms of climate smart agriculture planning and development. The results from the adaptation theme, which examined drivers of adaptation in Vietnam and gender disparities in knowledge acquisition in Malawi, highlight the main drivers of household and planned agricultural adaptation in Vietnam are related the participants experience with climate stress and the availability of institutional support. Climate stress increases awareness and motivation to adapt, while the institutional support can potentially shape that change. In Malawi, results from an agroforestry knowledge extension program indicated that male farmers gained more from formal extension than female farmers. Though female farmers gained more from farmer-to-farmer learning that their male counterparts. Finally, the results from the mitigation theme focused on the benefits of afforestation on water quality, and the potential benefits from afforestation replacing livestock systems in Ireland. Results related to water quality indicated a slight benefit over 20 years from forest cover. This is likely due to long periods without disturbance, relative to more cyclical rural land uses. From a carbon storage perspective, there is significant benefit when forest cover replaces dairy. This is largely due to the fact that dairy has a large emissions profile, and is more likely to be situated on land that is capable of producing the highest forest yields. However, from a policy perspective, conflicting environmental and agricultural production policy will likely make it difficult to realise the full sequestration potential. Overall, this thesis recognises the limitations with regards to the climate smart agriculture framework. However, the research has benefited greatly through the utilisation of the framework to examine challenges in a diverse range of geographic and socioeconomic contexts, and at multiple scales. There is still much research needed in order further define the boundaries with regards to what is ‘climate smart’, however, when examining the melting pot of global agriculture, the climate smart agriculture framework offers a useful unifying framework that can be tailored to fit the context. However, this flexibility is also potentially vulnerable to the subjective agenda of the actors involved.
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