Climate Change

A big role for smallholders in tackling climate change

Saleem Shaikh
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Climate Change?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how Climate Change is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:

Climate Change

As important food producers, small-scale farmers in the developing world should get a significant share of funds raised to help poorer countries adapt to climate change impacts and curb emissions, agriculture officials said at U.N. climate negotiations in Peru.

Investment in easy-to-access weather information, extensions services, improved disaster preparedness, and other cost-effective and efficient new technology could help small-scale farmers keep feeding themselves and their families, they said.

Farmers “are more than victims of climate change impacts,” said Gernot Laganda, head of the environment and climate change division of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

“Our experience shows that the smallholder farmers are an integral part of the solution to global warming,” he said at the launch of an IFAD report at the talks.

With around 500 million smallholder farms producing much of the food supply in many developing countries, farmers must be seen as running “vital businesses” in need of greater climate resilience, IFAD officials said.

That greater resilience could come from investment of funds in agricultural adaptation, and efforts to limit climate-changing emissions from agriculture, they said.

“Smallholder farmers are among the most effective clients for public funds for dealing with issues around climate change,” argued IFAD President Kanayo F. Nwanze.

Around the world, farmers are dealing with increasingly extreme and unpredictable weather, linked to climate change, that threatens to undermine food security.

IFAD investments in a range of countries are bringing farmers better access to the information, finance, social networks and technology needed “to boost farm productivity while at the same time restoring a degraded natural resource base and bringing down agriculture’s carbon footprint,” said Juan De Dios Mattos, a Latin American specialist for the fund.

Agricultural investment programmes could provide effective platforms for climate action, he said. In Bolivia, for instance, IFAD is working with community groups to catalogue indigenous knowledge about natural resource management and blend it with innovative climate change adaptation strategies to encourage communities to better manage resources.

Yemen to Bangladesh

In Yemen a climate risk analysis programme is informing the location and design of rural feeder roads. And in Rwanda, another project helped the government adopt improved building codes and hubs to process harvests using renewable energy, Matoos said.

In Bangladesh, considered one of the world’s most climate-vulnerable countries, meanwhile, IFAD is working in the flood-prone coastal Hoar region to protect farmer livelihoods by resettling families away from hazards and diversifying their incomes.

The Hoar region is a low-lying bowl shaped basin, covering about 6,000 square kilometers in Sylhet division, mostly in Sunamganj district. It floods with 4-8 meters of water for about half the year, and has become highly vulnerable to high tides and stronger waves.

Widespread deforestation in the region has stripped away the natural barriers that historically would have reduced the impact of waves, the IFAD report said.

As part of a $133 million climate resilience pilot project, four villages for resettling families have been developed with renewable energy supplies, storage facilities and clean water and sanitation infrastructure. The project, which IFAD hopes to scale up, is expected to benefit 240,000 small-scale farmers in 224 villages in the region.

The project aims to test adaptation interventions – including training farmers in alternate skills such as boat building and engine repair – in an effort to build resilience to climate impacts.

Published in collaboration with the Thomson Reuters Foundation

Author: Saleem Shaikh is an Islamabad-based freelance writer for the Thomson Reuters Foundation with an interest in climate change.

Image: A labourer drinks water while harvesting wheat crop at a field in Jhanpur village of the northern Indian state of Punjab April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Ajay Verma.

Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
Climate ChangeEconomic ProgressFuture of the Environment
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Two years to save the planet, says UN climate chief, and other nature and climate stories you need to read this week

Johnny Wood

April 15, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum