Experts Reveal List of Best Climate Innovations to Boost Farmer Productivity

Climate change impact
Climate change impact

Michael Kremer, 2019 economics Nobel laureate, joined Her Excellency Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment and COP28 Food Systems Lead, and Bill Gates, Co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, during COP28, to announce the creation of AIM4Scale, a new mechanism to support food system innovations that improve resilience and mitigate emissions, and transition them to scale.

Professor Kremer chairs the Innovation Commission for Agriculture, Food Security and Climate Change. The Commission is partnering with the COP28 Presidency to inform the design of AIM4Scale, the selection of innovations with rigorous evidence of impact and cost-effectiveness, and the development of specific, concrete actions to transition these innovations to scale.

“Innovation is a global public good,” said Kremer at an event co-hosted by the COP28 Presidency and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation during COP28. “Adapting innovations, refining them through A/B tests, and scaling them provides proof of concept and generates global knowledge that can inform scaling internationally. This means that global funding has an important role to play to develop and scale innovations.”

During the event, Kremer also announced the release of recommendations to transition an initial set of priority innovations to scale as well as to accelerate the development of earlier stage innovations:

Improved weather forecasts: Innovations enable vastly more accurate and timely weather and seasonal forecasts, and there is strong evidence that farmers adapt agricultural practices in response to accurate forecasts. Procuring regional forecasts covering 12 countries with 260-305 million farming families subject to the Asian monsoon and similar weather systems in Africa is estimated to cost USD 23 million, while generating more than a hundred times as large benefits for farmers.

Digital agriculture: Climate change not only affects weather, but also pests, soil salinity, agricultural markets, and optimal choice of seed and other inputs. Digital agriculture allows for timely, inexpensive, and potentially customized delivery of this information to help boost farmers’ resilience. Multiple governments have rolled out digital agricultural advisory programs, often working with technical partners to use principles of human-centered design and A/B testing to improve communication with farmers. India, for example, has already successfully implemented programs at scale. Digital agriculture could be rapidly scaled to reach hundreds of millions of farmers.

Training for rainwater harvesting: On-farm rainwater harvesting can improve soil quality, increase yields and revenues, and sequester carbon. Simple training sessions increase the adoption of harvesting techniques such as demi-lunes. Funding of USD 21 million to scale up such training could benefit about 1.8 million farmers in Burkina Faso, Mali, and Chad, generating benefits up to six times greater than costs.

Microbial fertilizers use bacteria to facilitate crops’ absorption of nutrients, improving yields and reducing the need for synthetic fertilizers. This is an earlier-stage innovation with high potential to boost food security while mitigating emissions. Modest funding could support the testing and adaptation of microbial fertilizers in LMICs. Establishing a fund to solicit proposals to develop, test, and adapt innovations for climate change, food security, and agriculture could support the development of cost-effective innovations to encourage the adoption of microbial fertilizers among smallholder farmers in LMICs.

The Commission includes former heads of state and finance ministers, and leaders in international organizations and civil society.

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