• The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has published its draft Climate Smart Agricultural Strategic Framework for comment.
  • The framework is intended to "guide actions at all levels government, investors and development partners" to "mainstream" climate-smart agriculture.
  • Here are some of the highlights.

Climate-smart agriculture, or CSA, can help South Africa adapt to the harsh realities of climate change, he department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries (DAFF) says in a new draft strategic plan – and the time to start preparing is now.

The department published its draft Climate Smart Agricultural Strategic Framework on Friday. It is open for comment until early October.

A climate-smart agriculture plan should be "farmer-centred", the department said, "with government steering but not rowing the policy development boat".

See also: Climate change could make your food less nutritious, according to Harvard researchers

The framework is intended to "guide actions at all levels of government, investors and development partners" in efforts to bring climate-smart agriculture into the mainstream.

The draft, as it stands, is a "negotiated balance between the scientifically sound, the diplomatically acceptable, politically relevant and the demands and realities of farmers, foresters and fishers", the DAFF said.

Here are some of the highlights from the framework.

Speed limits for fishing boats.

(Wikimedia Commons)

The framework includes several recommendations to limit the effort expended in fishing, including "fitting vessels with governors to limit maximum speed" and upgrading vessels to better engines.

The document stresses the use of fuel in fishing again and again, in various different ways, but makes only passing mention of fuel in agriculture, saying that smallholder farmers should be disincentivised from high fuel consumption, without any detail on how this should be done.

See also: Fish and crocodile farmers say a new bill intended to develop their sector will destroy it

Relocating abalone farms.

Priority initiatives should include considering the relocation of fish farms at threat from rising sea levels, the framework drafts says.

"Particularly, this is will probably affect abalone farms."

See also: A massive 'ranched' abalone harvest is expected off the PE coast – under heavy security

Studying indigenous knowledge systems for tips.

Another priority action should be "gathering and understanding the vast body of knowledge which traditional communities, particularly those in hazard prone areas, have collectively generated on disaster prevention and mitigation, early warning, preparedness and response", the department says.

Livestock farmers should be encouraged to use "medication that draws from local indigenous knowledge", the framework suggests, in one of the few concrete examples of integrating traditional knowledge into policy, as the draft document says should be done.

See also: Fried termites - rich in protein and vitamins - are the go-to meal for many SA households, a new study shows

Using social media and Wikipedia.

Climate-smart agriculture requires a lot of good data, the strategic framework says, on everything from health trends to weather patterns.

It also needs social media. 

"Innovation information sharing platforms such as Facebook" and Wikpedia should be used to collect and store knowledge, the draft policy says.

"The knowledge generated and the information collected must be effectively managed and communicated through modern foras such as social media targeting youth."

Better plants and animals, though no mention of GMOs.


In 73 pages the draft framework never refers to genetically-modified organisms in any way, either positive or negative – despite being very clear on the need for new breeds of animals and plants.

South Africa should develop new livestock and fish breeds "not only for climate-resilience and sustainable productivity, but also for improving farming practices that reduce [greenhouse gases] emission," the document says.

It also recommends "breeding and screening" for traits such as early maturity, drought tolerance, the ability to withstand being submerged or exposed to salt, low glycaemic index, and high levels of carbon sequestration. 

See also: After a $66 billion merger, one of the most hated food companies in the world is disappearing — sort of

Smarter finance solutions, possibly underwritten by the government.

The draft policy recommends at least considering a whole range of finance interventions and tweaks to encourage climate-smart agriculture.

• A 10-year tax holiday for products that come from climate-smart agriculture, and subsidised loans for such efforts
 Payment for ecosystem services (PES), a system of incentives for landowners to restore degraded land and use resources sustainably
 Index-based agricultural insurance packages
 Government re-insurance to support rolling out crop insurance to smallholder farmers
 Guarantees, or insurance, against loss of harvest because climate-smart agriculture changes are implement.

See also: Earning you almost R375,000 per hectare, this must be SA's most profitable crop

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