Smallholder farmers’ engagement with climate smart agriculture in Africa: role of local knowledge and upscaling

Ayorinde Ogunyiola, Maaz Gardezi, Sumit Vij*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is an important discourse among national governments in Africa and international policy circles to increase food productivity, build smallholder farmers’ resilience to climate change, and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Despite presenting several potential economic and environmental benefits to farmers, its adoption among African smallholder farmers is low. Two important aspects that influence the adoption of CSA are inclusion and exclusion of farmers’ local knowledge and how CSA is upscaled among smallholder farmers in Africa. This article uses a systematic review methodology to demonstrate that the existing literature (between 2010-2020) on CSA has substantially addressed issues that hinder its upscaling in Africa, such as heterogeneous farming systems, limited finance, high cost of agricultural inputs, and technology. However, only eight of 30 articles included in the systematic review indicate challenges pertaining to inclusion or exclusion of local knowledge in CSA practices and technologies. Policymakers and academics need to rethink how smallholder farmers’ local knowledge can enhance opportunities and fulfil the potential to upscale CSA in Africa. Key policy insights Implementing stronger land tenure regulatory frameworks are critical for upscaling CSA practices and technologies in Africa. Governments and development partners need to implement inclusive financial policies and institutional arrangements in consultation with smallholder farmers to improve upscaling of CSA in Africa. Development partners need to approach local knowledge with care and respect, if CSA is to become more inclusive for smallholder farmers in Africa. Effective scaling of CSA is vital for climate change adaptation and mitigation in Africa.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-426
Number of pages16
JournalClimate Policy
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant Number 2202706 and 2026431. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Africa
  • Climate-smart agriculture
  • inclusion and exclusion
  • local knowledge
  • upscaling climate action


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