Credit: AICCRA/Kelvin Trautman

Enhancing inclusion and transformation in agriculture through effective and targeted communication

Climate-smart agriculture offers solutions for more productive, sustainable, and equitable agriculture in the face of climate change. However, various barriers hinder the accessibility and uptake of CSA and related knowledge, particularly for women and other groups. Targeted communication can be used to address some of these barriers and improve access to and use of climate-smart knowledge and practices by farmers.

In a briefing paper developed in partnership with Accelerating Impacts of CGIAR Climate Research for Africa (AICCRA), AUDA-NEPAD explores a range of communication pathways and strategies for reaching small-scale farmers, especially women, empowering them with the information needed for improved farm-level decision making in the face of climate change.

Climate change presents an enormous challenge to Africa’s food security, especially for smallholder food producers whose livelihoods depend on rainfed agricultural production systems. The adoption and scaling of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) offers solutions to the challenge, however, various entry, structural and systemic barriers hinder the accessibility and uptake of agro-climatic information and related knowledge by smallholder farmers, particularly for women and other marginalised groups.

We know that successful CSA requires the timely delivery of accurate, reliable and locally specific climate information for improving smallholder farmers’ decision making. Therefore, targeted communication activities have a key role to play in ensuring that climate information and climate-smart solutions are disseminated in a strategic and socially inclusive manner. By understanding the power dynamics, barriers, and social contexts that influence the scaling of CSA and climate information services (CIS), communications products and methods can be tailored in terms of production, translation, transfer, and use, so that women’s and men’s participation in, and potential to benefit from, CSA can be enhanced.

The new briefing paper, Enhancing inclusion and transformation in agriculture through effective and targeted communication, explores the effective communication of CSA and CIS through several case studies, and provides valuable recommendations for enhancing gender and social inclusion in CSA communication with a range of communication pathways and strategies.

Communications methods for climate-smart agricultural extension

Effective CSA communication has the potential to assist all farmers with identifying climate-related problems, raising awareness, encouraging dialogue, sharing solutions, and influencing behavioural change.

There are multiple ways to communicate climate information and CSA interventions to farmers, but these communication channels have varying levels of effectiveness depending on the local contexts and each present different advantages and disadvantages for social inclusion. The paper helps to outline some of these communication methods and how they may be used to reach farmers.

At a Glance: Present-day communication methods for climate-smart agricultural extension

How can communication contribute to scaling climate-smart agriculture?

Socially inclusive communication channels are key to enhancing farmers’ capabilities of adapting to climate change and variability challenges, by ensuring equitable access to the information they need to make informed and empowered decisions.

To enhance uptake, information needs to be simple, evidence-based and updated to be reliable and relevant. Indigenous knowledge, such local names, languages and terminology, needs to be incorporated into CIS as traditional methods and cultural value are often perceived to be more trustworthy and accessible than science-based forecasts.

In addition, networks and partnerships with government agencies, research institutions, civil society, agri-businesses and media, amongst others, should be leveraged to address context-specific barriers to information access and to sustainably deliver knowledge and CSA technologies to farming communities, and particularly to women.

The future of climate-smart communication

Methods for communicating climate information and CSA interventions will continue to evolve, driven by significant advances in technology and a desire to reach farmers in more effective and efficient ways. The trend towards digital and mobile-based climate-smart extension is expected to continue into the future as new technologies emerge and more farmers gain access to the internet and mobile devices. However, current research suggests that farmers still learn the most about new agricultural practices from other farmers – showing that dissemination through participatory methods driven by farmers themselves is still crucial for enhanced CSA adoption and scaling.

Including targeted and context-relevant communications activities as part of a strategy for scaling climate-smart agriculture has the potential to pave the way for a more climate resilient and inclusive agricultural sector, and ultimately a food-secure Africa.

Explore via AUDA-NEPAD: Enhancing inclusion and transformation in agriculture through effective and targeted communication

Further reading




AUDA-NEPAD strives to foster resilience in African agriculture by closing policy and institutional gaps, building the capacity of women smallholder farmers, establishing and strengthening women's platforms, and investing in the scaling of successful and innovative practices, including climate-smart agriculture (CSA).

To support this, AUDA-NEPAD has developed a briefing paper which presents practical tools and recommendations for African countries to develop the technical policy and investment conditions to achieve sustainable agricultural development under climate change.

Read it here