Climate-Smart Agriculture and Best Practices

In November 2014, over fifty participants from across Latin America came together in Gracias, Lempira, Honduras to discuss climate-smart agriculture and identify best practices.  Representatives from USAID missions across the region, implementing partners of USAID-funded agriculture projects, and climate change and environment staff from Washington came together to exchange lessons learned, experiences, and ideas for the future.

I was invited to join the workshop because my dissertation research looks at innovation and technology transfer for climate adaptation in the agricultural sector, and Honduras is one of my case study countries. 

The workshop focused on the experiences with Feed the Future, as well as other USAID agricultural initiatives in the region.  Feed the Future (http://www.feedthefuture.gov/) is a Presidential Initiative to combat food insecurity and hunger in 19 priority countries.  Although Feed the Future investments are larger in Africa and Southeast Asia, there are three participating countries in Latin America: Honduras, Guatemala, and Haiti.

In order to ground the discussions throughout the week in practical realities, the workshop organized several field visits to the Honduras Feed the Future project, “ACCESO“ (http://www.usaid-acceso.org/).  In 2013 I conducted over 100 interviews with ACCESO clients to understand the farmer experience regarding the adoption of new technologies promoted by the program and the role that these technologies and new access to markets for their resilience and adaptive capacity.  I presented some of the insights from this research, and encouraged programs and projects to think critically about the role of risk and potential tradeoffs between production for markets and resilience to climate change. 

Although the workshop did not resolve the very complex challenges facing the region regarding food security and climate adaptation and the role of the agricultural sector in addressing these goals, it provided many opportunities for experience-sharing and a foundation for more critical thinking on these issues was laid.