|Participants introduce themselves at the Climate Smart Agriculture Workshop in Canberra. Photo: ACIAR|
Attendees at the workshop traveled from around Australia and Canberra to discuss CSA and the innovation possibilities for farming systems. The workshop took place on 2 August 2016 and was opened by ACIAR’s new CEO Andrew Campbell.
|ACIAR CEO, Andrew Campbell, welcomes participants to the workshop. Photo: ACIAR|
Three major challenges had been mapped out to guide the focus of the day:
1. Positioning CSA research in an evolving institutional and policy landscape
2. Priorities for next generation CSA research, including climate smart villages
3. Going to scale with CSA research products
Whilst the workshop did not seek to define or re-define CSA in any way, participants were involved in discussions around what is a CSA innovation process? What is the best delivery mechanism of one? And who is best placed to take on these innovations at any given point in a value chain? It is here that the ever present yet elusive ‘context’ comes in. Each situation is different and thus what is ‘climate-smart’ in one scenario may not be in another. The science community can carefully design, package and test as many innovations as we like but without considering the operating conditions we will not deliver anything of value.
Not one of us is immune to the conundrum of context. We are all Homo sapiens existing on the same planet with relatively similar needs and desires. Agreed, and yet the space in which each of us goes about our daily lives is inextricably coloured by the social, cultural and economic environment into which we are thrust. It is the lens through which we view the world.
Farming is no different, across the globe there are countless micro-climates, a myriad of soil combinations and host of vegetative diversity that all interact to produce varying outcomes.
Possible tools for the kit of mitigation and adaptation were offered up in the form of an increasingly multi-disciplinary approach to macro issues such as these.
A highlight of the day was a video presentation prepared by Dennis Garrity from the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). Dennis presented a strong case for the integration of trees into productive landscapes. This would not only provide farmers with an agroforestry enterprise but also a mechanism to sequester carbon and reduce the contribution of agricultural activity to global carbon emissions. This idea of a move to increasingly ‘perennial agriculture’ termed by Dennis as the ‘EverGreen movement’ points to a more diversified landscape where farms mimic ecosystems with multiple layers of organisms functioning in symbiosis. Such a landscape has been largely neglected in the Australian context since the industrial revolution in favour of more efficient, mechanised alternatives. However, many of our closest neighbours still practice farming with more than one crop species per season, sometimes referred to as a ‘polyculture’ and as such both contexts offer up ideas to the climate adaptation debate.
|Small group break out sessions were effective in promoting discussion. Photo: ACIAR|
ACIAR is well placed to engage in cross-contextual work. As a long term broker of partnerships, we have many longstanding relationships in Australia and overseas which give key insight into local conditions in which people work. This facilitates effective knowledge and technology sharing that benefits both Australia and our global neighbours and provides a platform for collaborative innovation. As we enter an age of increasing uncertainty, working together will be more important than ever to ensure the best possible outcomes for all.
- CGIAR research program on Climate Change Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
- Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) Brisbane
- University of Queensland
- Royal Melbourne Institute of technology (RMIT)
- WorldVision Australia
- University of Sydney
- International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI)
- South Australian Research and Development Institute (SARDI)
- University of Melbourne
- World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF)
- Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
- Australian National University (ANU)
By Miriam McCormack, Graduate Officer Crops Cluster, ACIAR