Adaptation in the agriculture and husbandry sector


The agriculture and husbandry sector in Madagascar provides employment, livelihoods and subsistence resources for more than 75% of the population, including a significant proportion of poor and near-poor households, and contributes more than 35% of the national GDP. Effects on this sector resulting from climate change are therefore integrally linked to efforts in poverty alleviation and enhancement of food security and achievement of overall national socio-economic development goals. Low intensity, rain fed rice production is the main agricultural activity in Madagascar. The practice of slash and burn agriculture – tavy – is the most common form of exploitation; the negative effects of this practice, which results in the loss of soil fertility, deforestation and erosion and is responsible for propagation of fires, are likely to be compounded by the effects of climate change. Other agricultural products, notably vanilla, are important sources of foreign earnings for the national economy.

Potential Impacts

Climate change impacts on the agriculture and husbandry sector are likely to occur as a result of both climate variability - changes in air temperature, sea level rise, and precipitation - and extreme climate events, including increased incidence and intensity of cyclones, drought and flooding. Potential impacts include:
• Loss of crops or reduction in yields due to one or more of the following factors: increased intensity and duration of droughts, salinity intrusion into freshwater areas, locust and pest invasions (particularly in the southern region), increased incidence of disease in livestock, storm damage (particularly in the northeast and southwest regions), and flood damage.

• Loss of soil fertility and increased erosion, particularly in highland areas, due to increased rainfall combined with existing effects of deforestation.

• Impacts on livelihoods and food security due to decreased yields or crop failure, loss of employment, reduction in income, need for adoption of supplementary livelihoods or change of livelihoods with lower incomes.

• Changes to traditional farming schedules and calendars due to variation in rainfall and temperature and increased cyclone activity resulting in crop failure or reduction in yields.

• Loss of cultural traditions linked to agricultural seasons and activities as seasonal cycles change.

• Disruption to agricultural communities through migration into or from certain areas as suitability of climate conditions change leading to conflicts, increased competition for limited natural resources, loss of cultural traditions, increased pressure on public services or public health impacts.

• Increased water stress resulting from a reduction in water availability (quality and quantity) and increased competition with other water users.

• Loss of genetic databanks through extinction or extirpation of wild crop races.

• Impacts on national economic development resulting from reduction in exportation of agricultural products.

Priority Actions

Climate change adaptation measures are required to increase the resilience of the agriculture sector and assist local communities to maintain or enhance their livelihoods in the face of future climate conditions. Examples of adaptation approaches that should be considered for implementation in the agriculture and husbandry sector in Madagascar include:
• Rehabilitation and restoration of degraded forest ecosystems to restore soil fertility and halt erosion. Examples include reinforcement and expansion of terrestrial network of protected areas, replanting activities on degraded lands, and creation of exclusion zones for agricultural activities.

• Implementation of agricultural practices to increase production yields and reduction of crop failures. Examples include rehabilitation of irrigation schemes, and promotion of the production and use of natural fertilizers.

• Assistance to farmers to improve agricultural practices and diversify livelihoods. Examples include implementation of agricultural extension and training schemes and farmer-to-farmer learning programs, strengthening of land tenure for agricultural households, strengthening and up-scaling of national microfinance scheme, increased access to veterinary services or implementation of counter-season cropping practices.

• Research into adaptative crop varieties to enhance resilience of crops. Examples include development and dissemination of crop varieties that are resistant to salinity, drought and flooding.

• Improved water management practices both on-farm and off-farm to increase water use efficiencies and reduce water pollution.

• Promotion of measures to augment farmer revenues. Examples include fair trade schemes, professionalization of agricultural and husbandry professions and creation of farmer associations.

• Improvements to ability of farmers to adapt to climate variability and extreme events through improved warning systems and distribution of information on climate conditions.

• Improved research and scientific analyses to better understand the likely nature, scale and location of impacts on the agriculture and husbandry sector in Madagascar.