New Plateau for Co-Developed Farming Systems Research

Nairobi Workshop Group PhotoParticipants at the Winners Circle Workshop in Nairobi, Kenya

By Erik Mencos Contreras

Since 2011 the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Project (AgMIP) has collaborated with researchers and stakeholders around the world to investigate the impacts of climate change on the agricultural sector and understand implications for global food security. With support from the UK Department for International Development (DFID), AgMIP Regional Research Teams (RRTs) in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia assessed the vulnerability of complex agricultural systems and tested adaptations to improve farmers’ livelihoods. In January 2017, AgMIP held the final workshop of the DFID funded project at the Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi, Kenya: the AgMIP Phase 2 Winners Circle Workshop. Participants included members from all seven AgMIP RRTs, as well as AgMIP Leaders and Advisers from America, Europe, and Australia. The goal of the meeting was for the Regional Teams to present their latest results on the AgMIP Regional Integrated Assessment (RIA) methodology and receive feedback to ensure the successful completion of the project.

The aim of the DFID-funded research is to provide scientifically rigorous information on the potential impacts of climate change to the agricultural sector to support decision-making by stakeholders at different scales, from local to national level, ranging from universities and NGOs to governmental institutions, in developing countries of Africa and Asia. An integral part of the research was the role of stakeholders in creating future scenarios and possible adaptation packages along with the regional teams. By co-developing the research with local stakeholders, the teams were able to respond to stakeholder’s needs, incorporate their expertise in scenarios and adaptations, and improve the relevance of the results for decision-makers.

Handbooks of Climate Change and AgroecosystemsThe Third Volume of the “Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems” now free to download through Imperial College Press.

Throughout the spring the teams have continued to work on completing the assessments, checking data, interpreting results, and crafting main messages to share with stakeholders. One repository for all this work will be the AgMIP Impacts Explorer, an online tool where research results will be accessible as data visualizations, summary text and info-graphics. Results and data from the teams are in the process of being uploaded into the Impacts Explorer, and the launch of a beta version of the tool is planned for October 2017.

At the end of May 2017, representatives from UK DFID visited the AgMIP Coordination Office at Columbia University in New York City, USA for the Programme Completion Review of Award GB-1-202108. The latest results from the project, including the development of a prototype of the AgMIP Impacts Explorer, were well received. The DFID reviewers commented that the project significantly improved the capability and reliability for integrating major crop models with climate, livestock and agricultural economic models to produce the best possible characterization of smallholder farming systems analyses currently in use. The result is a more detailed understanding of how current and future climate conditions can affect the physiology and productivity of various staple crops across a number of regions through Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia and how this will affect food security for millions of people.

Results from the first phase of the project (2011-2014) as well as other AgMIP activities are available in the Third Volume of the Handbook of Climate Change and Agroecosystems, now free to download through Imperial College Press. An updated volume with results from the second phase of the research is now in planning.

AgMIP Teams and Leaders are energized by the positive response from the DFID representatives and are currently searching for the next opportunities to expand on the work of the last 6+ years. They are also eager to share the results of the most recent Regional Integrated Assessments with stakeholders in order to support evidence-based decision-making. Agriculture in all of the study regions is facing a variety of challenges. The new results from the integrated assessments can assist in choosing policies that will support farming systems now and in the future.

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