This article was originally published on the CFR website on July 2, 2019

Chile’s National Implementing Entity has initiated a broad partnership with farmers to increase mutual understanding of how climate change is affecting agriculture and how climate-smart interventions could build resilience. Their experiences in knowledge management are now inspiring other countries.

The Chilean International Cooperation Agency for Development (AGCID) is a National Implementing Entity (NIE) of the Adaptation Fund. AGCID’s US$ 9,960,000 grant is for strengthening the climate resilience of agriculture in the country’s O’Higgins region. Scientists expect that the O’Higgins region will be deeply affected by future decreases in rainfall. Water scarcity and soil degradation are already a challenge for the region’s farmers: climate change will make the problems even worse. The project has been working to increase rural communities’ capacity to deal with climate variability and future climate change, through training programs and the introduction of water-saving and soil-enhancing technologies.

Knowledge to tailor adaptation activities

Knowledge management plays a major role in building the capacity of project staff and beneficiaries, and strengthening project effectiveness.

Early on, AGCID ran surveys among farm households in the project area. These surveys collected data on households’ sociodemographic and educational status, productive activities (starting year as a farmer, dominant production system, land tenure, land area, crops, animal endowment, land infrastructure, access to water, among others); income (property and extra property); technology use and the effects of climate change.

Analysts studied the data and presented it back to farmers and to Ministry of Agriculture officers.

The analysis helped technical teams to tailor their training courses for farmers in each district.

“Local training teams were [made up] of agronomists, veterinarians and agricultural technicians,” said Violeta Leiva Milanca of AGCID. They designed training programs in sustainable soil management, such as plowing, fertilizing and soil fertility practices, based on the information compiled. They coached farmers in the use of climate-tolerant crops, fodder crops, fruit trees and livestock, and also in efficient water management, harvesting and storage.

The evidence base is now supporting knowledge-sharing between AGCID and other key Chilean institutions – and catalyzing partnerships that promise to endure long after the AF-sponsored project has ended.

For example, AGCID is now speaking with the provincial education authorities.

“There is a request for collaboration for disseminating project [information about] climate change and implementation of rainwater harvesting technologies in schools,” said Ms Milanca.

“We are contemplating disseminating knowledge in rural schools, so that students are agents of promotion of adaptation techniques.”

Learning across borders

What is more,  the Chilean project has shared its lessons learned with other countries – by becoming the first AF grantee to host an international learning exchange. In May 2019, the AF funded NIEs from 11 countries to visit Chile and learn all about AGCID’s data-gathering, analysis, knowledge management and training activities. NIEs from Antigua and Barbuda, Armenia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Federated States of Micronesia, Jamaica, Mexico, Panama, Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania attended.

Country Exchange Visits form part of the AF’s readiness program and support the AF’s Medium-Term Strategy, with its focus on innovation, action and learning. The exchanges are intended to strengthen the “long-term capacity of national and regional institutions to implement and execute high quality adaptation projects/programs”. The AF plans to sponsor a Country Exchange Visit at least once every financial year.

“For Chile and for AGCID in particular, this constitutes a very relevant milestone and an occasion of pride to receive the first mission of the exchange of experiences and knowledge for the NIEs of the Adaptation Fund,” said AGCID Executive Director, Ambassador Juan Pablo Lira.


Image: agriculture produce of Chile, courtesy CIFOR.