Concept Note

The objectives of the Policy Dialogue are to:

  1. Share empirical evidence on the importance of climate smart agriculture in transitioning to resilient farming communities in SSA
  2. Develop recommendations on how to build climate-smart and resilient farming systems in SSA at scale
  3. Networking, and promoting partnerships and action

Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) is dealing with climate change and its impacts will intensify in the medium term. Higher temperatures, changing rainfall patterns and more frequent and extreme droughts and floods are projected. This has major implications for Africa’s smallholder farmers who support their households and local markets through products produced in less than three hectares of land. Nearly 93% of agriculture in Africa south of the Sahara is currently rainfed and a large share of the rural population is subject to the vagaries of climate to grow crops and support livestock production. Yields for both crops and livestock have stagnated or grown only slowly for decades; as a result, net food imports of basic staples have increased rapidly in line with growing populations and are projected to continue. 

Many studies have found that, compared to historic climate scenarios, climate change will lead to changes in yield and area growth, with overall lower yield growth and therefore larger expansion, higher food prices and therefore lower affordability of food, reduced calorie availability, and growing childhood undernutrition in Africa south of the Sahara. Without solutions, falling crop yields, will push more people into poverty.  An estimated 43 million people in Africa alone could fall below the poverty line by 2030 as a result. The food security challenge will only become more difficult, as the continent will need to produce about 70 percent more food by 2050 to feed an estimated 9 billion people.


Substantial investments in adaptation will be required to maintain current yields and to achieve production and food quality increases to meet demand. Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to managing landscapes—cropland, livestock, forests, and fisheries–that address the interlinked challenges of food security and climate change. CSA aims to simultaneously achieve three outcomes of (i) increased productivity; (2) enhanced resilience and (3) reduced emissions. 


While built on existing knowledge, technologies, and principles of sustainable agriculture, CSA is distinct in that it has an explicit focus on addressing climate change. Second, CSA systematically considers the synergies and trade-offs that exist between productivity, adaptation, and mitigation. Practices that have been found to be potentially climate-smart in a wide range of contexts include improved water management. Irrigation is a particularly robust climate smart agricultural (CSA) technology in the semi-arid and arid areas of SSA and is often essential to the deployment of any other CSA technology. Across Africa, there are research and development projects working to help farmers adapt to the challenges associated with climate change.


The Transforming Smallholder Irrigation in Southern Africa consortium in collaboration with the FANRPAN Node Hosting Institution in South Africa – National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC), Agriculture Research Council (ARC) South Africa, Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA), the SADC Groundwater Management Institute (GMI); the Australian Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR); the International Water Resources Association (IWRA); International Water Management Institute (IWMI); the Water Research Commission (WRC) of South Africa,  the Wine Industry of South Africa), Human Research Council of South Africa (HSRC) and the South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP)have come together to convene a CSA Policy Dialogue ahead of the UN 2023 Water Conference.  The Policy Dialogue provides a unique opportunity for stakeholders from SSA to reflect together and craft messages that will feed into the UN Water Conference deliberations.

The conference theme is “Transitioning to Climate-Resilient Farming Systems in Sub-Saharan Africa,” focusing on the next generation of research, smart technology, policy development and best practices that are achieving breakthroughs in this vitally important mission.

Five subthemes have been identified:

  1. Technological and governance Innovations

The discussions will be around how innovative governance practices and technologies can be leveraged and scaled up to ultimately lead to improved water resources use and the transformation of Africa’s agriculture and food systems.


  1. Circular food systems

The discussions will focus on the indispensable role that water plays in the design of food systems within a circular society in which water is also preserved for nature.


  1. Social Inclusion

The discussions will deepen the understanding of gender and social inclusion in the context of agriculture and food systems, water resources use, climate change.


  1. Capacity Building

The discussions will explore how inclusive human and institutional capacities at all levels can enable improved adoption of climate smart agriculture technologies.


  1. Partnerships and increased investments

The discussions will delve into concrete actions governments can take to boost climate-smart agriculture, both in the form of investment opportunities and policy design and implementation.



The policy dialogue will bring together representatives of regional economic communities (RECs), international and regional institutions, government representatives, non-governmental organizations, civil society organizations, academic institutions, the scientific community, international, regional, and national research organizations; universities; farmer organizations; private sector; civil society; the media and other stakeholders.

LISTEN TO THE Event Speakers

Hon. Angela Thokozile Didiza

Minister, Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development of South Africa

Dr Tshilidzi Madzivhandila

CEO and Head of Mission FANRPAN

H.E Tegan Brink

Australian High Commissioner to South Africa

Mr Mooketsa Ramasodi

Director-General: Department of Agriculture Land Reform and Rural Development South Africa

Dr Neil Lazarow

Research Program Manager, Water Program, ACIAR

Dr Theo De Jager

Board Chairman, FANRPAN

Prof. Sarah Mosoetsa

Chief Executive Officer, HSRC

Dr Litha Magingxa

President and CEO ARC, South Africa

Dr Nompumelelo Obokoh

Chief Executive Officer, SACNASP

Dr Canisius K. Kanangire

Executive Director, AATF

Eng. James Sauramba

Executive Director, SADC Groundwater Management Institute (GMI)

Prof. Jamie Pittock

Fenner School of Environment & Society, Australian National University

Mr. Mamadou Biteye

Executive Secretary, African Capacity Building Foundation

Dr Inga Jacobs-Mata

Regional Representative, Southern Africa IWMI

Dr Menghestab HAILE

Regional Director - Southern Africa, WFP

Dr Elizabeth Mkandawire

Network and Research Manager, FSNet-Africa, UP

Dr Oluyede Ajayi

Global Lead, Food Security and Rural Well Being, GCA

Dr Marinda Visser

Director - Strategic Projects and Partnerships in Agriculture, UP

Dr Simphiwe Ngqaweni

CEO, National Agriculture Marketing Council

Mr Anton Earle

Director - African Regional Centre, SIWI

Mr Vitumbiko Chinoko

Project Manager, Open Forum on Agricultural Biotechnology in Africa, AATF

Ms Sithembile Mwamakamba

Director - Policy Research and Analysis at FANRPAN

Ms Providence Mavumbi

Director - Agriculture and Industry, COMESA

Dr Colleta Gandidzanwa

Postdoctoral Fellow, FSNet-Africa, UP

Dr Martin Moyo

Country Representative – Climate Adaptation and Mitigation Senior Scientist, ICRISAT Zimbabwe

Dr Henning Bjornlund

University of South Australia (UniSA), Australia

Dr Easther Chigumira

Senior Agriculture Specialist, World Bank

Mrs Wendy Petersen

Executive Manager, SAWITU

Dr Gabriel Lekalakala

Specialist Scientist, Climate Change Analysis, Department of Water and Sanitation, South Africa

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