To soften the blow of the food crisis and climate change on those in the global south, there has been a move to support small-scale farmers in Africa; arguably a move that can reap positive benefits, considering more than 60 percent of the population on the continent is engaged in agriculture. Today African farmers are adapting strategies to cope with climate change and the food crisis. Whether it is through simple changes in production styles or miniature gardens, those who farm for a living are doing whatever it takes to survive agricultural crises.
In regards to climate change, small-scale farmers across Africa have taken steps to ensure that their crops are able to adapt to changes in the environment. Studies show that in Benin, Kenya and Malawi, farmers have adopted a number of approaches to the issue of climate change: diversifying or changing their crops, using resources more efficiently and raising their capacity to cope with future changes in climate. Often farmers band together to form savings clubs or to build “rain-harvesting tanks” to create a regular supply of water in times of drought. They also switch to faster growing crops, plant a variety of crops to ensure harvest, and engage in non-farming activities, such as charcoal production, to supplement incomes.
When large-scale production fails due to drought, erosion, and increased commodity prices, local people find the means to deal with a shortage in food. In Lesotho, individuals have begun to construct “keyhole” gardens that produce enough to feed their families. A keyhole garden is a round garden, two meters wide and about waist-height. Stone encircles the garden, protecting it from erosion. Because of their size, they retain moisture and are more productive. With three of these gardens, a family is able to feed ten individuals and have enough vegetables left to sell. The gardens also serve as a means for families to diversify their diets, allowing them to grow beetroot, spinach, onions, tomatoes, and carrots. Afrigadget, one of our featured blogs, has a great article with video and pictures about key-hole gardens.