Demonstrating ‘climate smart’ farming is one thing. But, how do we properly engage the private sector to make sure they too promote a cleaner, greener farming future? For SNV CSA Asia Global Coordinator Adrian Enright, the answer often lies in simple, yet effective engagement with the right suppliers.
Recent trips to the four CSA Asia project sites across Bhutan, Nepal, Cambodia and Laos PDR revealed good progress. Climate change awareness activities and relevant climate-smart technologies were well established and effective in most cases. However, a common challenge emerged - how do we most effectively engage agricultural suppliers as part of the climate-smart solution? In most cases, the answer lies in the way we engage private suppliers.
As we know, most private suppliers are motivated by one thing – profit. Where there’s a demand for a good, they will be interested in supplying it to earn profit. So, is there any difference with climate-smart farming approaches?
Not really, and the case of SNVs activities in Nepal illustrates this well.
In Nepal, SNV has introduced snow-harvesting pits for apple suppliers in Jumla. Demonstrations of this simple, low-cost solution to water shortages have been successfully integrated into the Local Adaptation Plans of Action (LAPA) by local government. However, the challenge remains that there is poor access to the highly durable plastic sheeting that is key to the successful implementation of the technology.
Plans are now in place to bring suppliers in Jumla and outside to see the technology at work – a ‘business’ field day of sorts. Bringing the supply to meet the demand will help realise the
opportunities for both business and smallholders through this technology. This can be a win for suppliers, but most importantly a win for smallholders in their efforts to build more resilient farms.
In Bhutan, a similar case emerges. Here, successful trials have been made in introducing drought tolerant upland rice varieties. These measures have needed to be combined with electric fencing to combat the growing number of pest animals (e.g. wild boar) eating the new crop. This is causing stress to farmers in terms of income losses, and forcing them to spend long nights in the field watching over their crop.
The key to making this simple technology accessible lies in not the seed, training skills or other typical agro-extension materials. Instead, the low-cost battery to charge the electric fence remains out of reach for most remote communities. Again, the solution will therefore lie in bringing suppliers (currently in Paro) to the sites to realise the market potential. That’s both climate, and business-smart.
Other interventions in Cambodia and Laos also continue to demonstrate positive results for low-cost solutions addressing water shortages. The ‘ponds and pumps’ combination in Cambodia has been demonstrated and upscaled. Similar approaches are being conducted in Laos. To be successful in its upscale, further effort is now being invested in demonstrating these solutions to local agro-suppliers.
Many other interventions are being tested across the CSA Asia project; micro-insurance, climate-smart horticulture, local weather-stations. Key to the sustainability of these initiatives will be the way SNV can successfully engage the private sector, big and small, to ensure climate-smart farms are supplied by climate-smart businesses.