Why mixing it up on the farm is key for climate change adaptation


For millions of smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and other parts of the developing world, deciding between growing crops and rearing animals has never been up for discussion. Instead farmers here mix it up, as keeping both livestock and crops on the farm provide milk for the family, meat and vegetables on the table and crops to sell on the market.

A recent perspective piece published in Nature Climate Changeby researchers Philip Thornton and Mario Herrero suggests that we still know very little about how climate change will impact these mixed farms and especially the interactions between crops and livestock. This is alarming as mixed farming systems form the backbone of smallholder production in developing countries,producing over 90% of the world’s milk supply and 80% of the meat from ruminants.

It is clear to see how important these systems are to millions of people, contributing heavily to livelihoods and incomes, and even the globe’s food supply. Making sure mixed farmers know the way forward for effective climate adaptation and resilience building is crucial.

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Photo Credit: Andrea Moroni

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