The SmartAgri Plan builds on the Western Cape Climate Change Response Strategy (WCCCRS 2014) and its Implementation Framework, specifically the focus area of “Food Security”. It also aligns closely with the current five-year Provincial Strategic Plan and the WCG: Agriculture Strategic Goals. One of the seven Goals is “Optimise the sustainable utilisation of water and land resources to increase climate smart agricultural production”. Owing to its position as a highly vulnerable sector, the agricultural sector is the first sector in the province to benefit from a sectoral climate change response framework and plan.
The SmartAgri Plan suggests that the WCG: Agriculture and other sectoral institutions and stakeholders pursue the vision of: “Leading the Way to a Climate-Resilient Agricultural Future for the Western Cape”.
In pursuit of this vision, the SmartAgri Plan proposes the following four Strategic Focus Areas (SFA):
1. Promote a climate-resilient low carbon production system that is productive, competitive, equitable and ecologically sustainable across the value chain.
2. Strengthen effective climate disaster risk reduction and management for agriculture.
3. Strengthen monitoring, data and knowledge management and sharing, and lead strategic research for climate change and agriculture.
4. Ensure good co-operative governance and institutional planning for effective climate change response implementation for agriculture.
Phase 1 of the SmartAgri project (August to December 2014) focused on the compilation of a comprehensive Status Quo Review of climate change and agriculture in the Western Cape. The primary product of this phase is a Status Quo Review. The report is available to the sector in draft form and serves as a valuable knowledge source. Several climatic trends were identified which are already impacting on the sector, such as increasing temperatures and reductions in the number of rainy days. Future climate projections were interpreted by taking into consideration the highly diverse agro-ecological conditions across the province and through a strong focus on the main crop and livestock commodities.
The Status Quo Review is a critical component of the SmartAgri project as it informs the development of the Climate Change Response Framework and Implementation Plan. The Review goes beyond the assessment of climate change responses in agriculture. It also engages in the assessment of risk and impacts of specific commodities and agro-climatic zones in order to provide a detailed understanding of the response gaps, needs and opportunities. A total of 23 agro-climatic zones across the Western Cape Province was assessed. The Review was based on in-depth desktop study, the findings from two stakeholder workshops held in October 2014, and interviews with experts. It is intended to become a practical tool that aids the decision-making of the stakeholder groups and government agencies in their day-to-day and long-term decision-making. A range of publications are being developed for dissemination to farmers, policymakers, agricultural organisations and researchers.