Constraints for adopting climate-smart agricultural practices among smallholder farmers in Southeast Kenya
Climate uncertainty challenges the livelihoods of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa. Awareness of climate-smart agricultural (CSA) practices and access to climate-smart technologies are key factors in determining the utilisation of farm and land management practices that may simultaneously decrease greenhouse gas emissions, increase the adaptive capacity of farmers, and improve food security. This study aimed to identify biophysical and socio-economic constraints that affect adoption of CSA practices among smallholder farmers in Taita Taveta County of Southeast Kenya across varying agro-ecological zones.
A CSA Rapid Appraisal that consisted of four mostly gender- disaggregated smallholder farmer workshops (102 participants), a household survey (65 participants), key- informant interviews (16 informants), and four transect walks was conducted. Results indicate a dissonance in the perceived awareness of CSA practices and utilization of CSA technologies between state actors and farmers. State actors emphasise lack of awareness as a barrier to adoption, while farmers express knowledgeability regarding environmental change and climate-smart practices but are confined by limitations and restrictions posed by e.g. market mechanisms, land tenure issues and lack of resources.
Our research findings are based on the contextual settings of Taita Taveta County, but the results indicate that adopting CSA practices and utilising technologies, especially in sub-Saharan regions that are heavily based on subsistence agriculture with heterogenous agro-ecological zones, require localized and gender-responsive solutions in policy formation and planning of both agricultural extension services and development interventions that take into account the agency of the farmers.
This study contributes to existing climate change adaptation research by increasing our understanding of how physical and socio-economic constraints can affect the adoption of new farm and land management practices, and how CSA-based intervention strategies could be restructured by local stakeholders to be more inclusive.