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Farming in times of climate change – a FiBL project in search of sustainable systems

The combined effects of climate change, advancing resource scarcity and population growth are placing huge pressure on global food production. Regions such as sub-Saharan Africa are affected particularly by such developments. Here, aridity, degraded soils, high population growth and poverty all present serious challenges to agricultural production. In a recently launched project, FiBL’s scientists are devising ways to make land uses water-efficient and nutrient-efficient, thus enhancing productivity and food security in arid zones.

(Frick, 22 April 2014) Global change in general and climate change in particular count among the greatest challenges faced by farmers and food producers. These pressures are compounded by mounting resource scarcity and growing populations in particularly vulnerable regions, putting agricultural productivity and food security at risk there.

FiBL’s scientists are now working to identify agricultural practices and cultivation systems that are both resource-efficient and well suited to smallholder production in arid zones. There is a substantial body of knowledge about this and diverse hypotheses – all of which, however, has never been compiled systematically and studied comprehensively with a scientific approach. The recently launched project titled “Potential of Sustainable Land-Use Systems to Promote Adaptation to Climate Change”, funded by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland, is seeking to close that gap.

Above and beyond the scientific study, the project will also transpose the knowledge gained into practice. The project therefore has two phases. Phase I involves producing the requisite knowledge base and analytical tools. Phase II will apply and validate the outcomes of Phase I in a pilot region. The project takes a step-wise, trans-disciplinary approach. This combines findings gained by applying the natural sciences at field and activity level with findings derived by the methods of the social sciences and economics at farm and regional level. By collaborating with renowned agricultural scientists and involving international development organisations, FiBL ensures that the solutions found are suited to the problems on the ground, and can also be trialled and implemented in the long term in the target regions.

The project broadens the knowledge base with regard to the capacity of farming systems to adapt to climate change, and improves the efficiency of their water and nutrient utilisation. It enhances the conditions of agricultural production in the pilot region, and seeks to ensure that such improvements are emulated elsewhere.

Further information

Contacts at FiBL

  • Andreas Gattinger, Soil Sciences Division, FiBL
  • Adrian Müller, Socio-Economics Division, FiBL
  • Adrian Krebs, media contact person, FiBL



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