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South African Journal of Agricultural Extension

On-line version ISSN 2413-3221
Print version ISSN 0301-603X


MAKA, L. et al. An assessment of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices skills amongst extension practitioners in South Africa. S Afr. Jnl. Agric. Ext. [online]. 2021, vol.49, n.2, pp.70-83. ISSN 2413-3221.

One of the roles of extension services is to link farmers to the developers of technological solutions (research outputs). Extension officers act as facilitators and assist farmers in their decision-making and technology adaptation. With the changing climate threatening production resources, extension officers need to encourage farmers to adopt various climate-smart agriculture (CSA) practices. The paper seeks to reflect on a study by the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) to assess their skills and knowledge about climate change and CSA. The study aimed to conduct a skills audit on CSA and related concepts. Through a stratified sampling method, all extension practitioners (EPs) registered with South African Council for Natural Scientific Professions (SACNASP) were included in the survey. The survey, administered through a user-friendly tool (online google forms), was developed to investigate: familiarity with, and current skills in climate-smart agriculture and collect biographic information, field of responsibility (e.g. cropping, livestock and mixedfarming). Both quantitative and qualitative data was sourced through the survey tool to draw generalized conclusion and perceptions of how best to improve the capabilities of EPs on CSA. The results of the survey showed that EPs had a theoretical understanding of climate change and CSA. Generally, EPs across all positions, education levels, age categories and experience could identify the correct definition and cause of climate change, despite the fact that the majority had not received any CSA training. On the contrary, the majority of respondents had little understanding of how best to apply the CSA approach in practice, to assist farmers curb the effects of climate change. A CSA training programme was developed to establish a strong theoretical base, together with an understanding of the challenges presented by climate change and climate variability to sustainable agriculture in South Africa.

Keywords : Climate-Smart Agriculture; skills; agricultural extension services.

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