Climatesmart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to developing policy,technical and investment conditions to acquire sustainable agricultural growthfor food security under varying climatic conditions.
Farmers with small landholdings following traditional methods of agriculture without considering theaspect of climate change are now benefited with CSA as there is very littlerisk by practicing it. CSA brings together practices, institutions and policiesthat are not new but in the context of climatic change which is unfamiliar tofarmers.Thispaper analyses CSA in Guatemala, which was ranked 9th among countries mostaffected by extreme climate events in the past two decades.
Themain aim of this study is to assess the costs and benefits of climate-smartagriculture in Guatemala.Themethod used in assessing the climate-smart agriculture in Guatemala includes:Literaturereview on practices used in CSA with respect to their costs and benefits andLiterature review on crops used in CSA with respect to their costs andbenefits.Concerningobtaining secondary data sources using the literature review on practices inCSA, the following practices employed in CSA will be considered based on theircosts and benefits: Mulching, Crop rotation, Contour farming, Water reservoir/ponds + drip irrigation.Thesepractices will be explained in detail in the subsequent sections. Concerningobtaining secondary data sources using literature review on crops used in CSA, cost-benefitanalyses of the following crops will be considered: Heat-tolerant maize variety,Pest-tolerant bean variety.
Mulching: it is a CSA practice carried out by applying a layer of material on thesurface of soil. The materials used as mulchcould be dead plant materials or polythene materials (Dalorima et al., 2014).Mulching is very important in CSA for the following reasons: it helps in conservingsoil moisture (by preventing evaporation), improving fertility and health ofthe soil, reducing weed growth and enhancing the visual appeal of the area. Thetypes of mulching materials used in Guatemala are polyethylene- black mulch,polyethylene- SRM red mulch, mana grass and Guatemala grass. The mulch appliedcovers the soil surface and thus does not leave the soil bare, consequentlypreventing soil erosion. Finally, when mulch made of plant material decomposes,additional nutrients are added to the soil (Baye Berihun, 2011).
Carrying outcost and benefits (CBA) on mulching as a CSA practice, the following can beoutlined as part of the cost when mulching is employed: cost for equipment andmachinery that would be used for making the mulch, cost for labour and cost forpolythene materials when polythene are used as mulching materials. In addition, when mulch is applied, seedsremain dormant and if they will even germinate, they take much longer time.Regardingthe benefits associated application of mulching, the following can be outlined:it increases crop yield by helping conserving soil moisture consequently makingsoil water available to crops. Mulch made of plant materials decompose and add additionalnutrients to the soil thereby improving fertility and health of the soil.
Mulching reduces weed growth and thereby reducing the amount of money needed toclear weeds in terms of applying weedicides or using mechanical methods. The mulch applied covers the soil surface andthus do not leave the soil bear, consequently preventing soil erosion. Thisimplies that no new land is necessary needed to be sought after for the nextgrowing season since the previous soil’s properties are kept intact. Crop Rotation: it is the practice of growing a series ofdifferent types of crops on the same piece of land by alternating them indifferent sequential growing seasons. The original land on which crop rotationis applied could be a fertile land or non-fertile (Ohrtman, 2013).
In Guatemala,Farms are very vulnerable to erosion and often are steep or rocky. On average,the size of a farm ranges from .2 to 1.5 hectares. This affects the size ofplots because if you do not have enriched soils it is hard to produce qualitygoods.
As the farms are often steep or rocky, only a small portion of land isavailable, this small portion of land is thus used for crop rotation.Forexample, when we cultivate leguminous crops in one growing season on a piece ofland, the green leaves together with the other wastes are ploughed into thesoil after the growing season and thus replenishing the fertility of the soilback into it. In the next growing season, a different crop like maize can becultivated on this same land which has gained its fertility and the rotationcan continue. Crop rotation often uses a leguminous crop together with othernon-leguminous in alternation in the growing seasons. Carryingout CBA on this practice, the cost involved in this practice would be: Equipmentused for ploughing the legumes into the soil, cost of fuel that would be boughtfor operating the ploughing machine and the other mechanization process, labourcost is also factored, time consumed for the ploughing process.Thebenefits involved in this practice would be: Yield will be twice when manure isapplied, crop rotation maintains the soil nutrients, it also helps in improvingthe soil stability, it prevents soil erosion because the land is always coveredwith some crops, availability of cheap organic manure since after harvestingthe legume the wastes is ploughed back into the soil as free organic source.
Contour farming: it is a type of CSA practice where sloped land is tilled along linesof consistent elevation or mountainous areas in order to conserve rainwater andto reduce soil losses from surface erosion (Saeid Shahvarooghi Farahaniet al., 2016). These are done by means of making furrows, crop rows, and wheeltracks across slopes. All ofthese act as reservoirs to catch and retain rainwater, thus permittingincreased infiltration and more uniform distribution ofthe water.Contour farming has beenpracticed usually in places where water is scarce and thus irrigation farmingis important. Contour farming is used as an essential part of erosion control.In Guatemala this practice is a boon as there is scarcity of water and the farmlands are prone to erosion as they are rocky and steep.
Carrying out CBA onthis practice, the cost involved in this practice would be: Equipment used forcontouring and to make furrows, labour cost for making the contours, time consumedfor making the contours, fuel to be consumed when making the contours. Thebenefits involved in this practice would be: Prevention of soil erosion, retentionof soil water, it increases water infiltration into the soil and also helps inslowing the water flow from the top of the mountain to the bottom.Water reservoir/ ponds + drip irrigation: Water reservoir could be explained as an enlarged natural orartificial area created specially as a storage pond or impoundment tostore water.
Water reservoirs can be created bydamming a stream that drains from an existing water body. InGuatemala the use of low pressure dripirrigation systems and rain water harvesters by impoverished farmers are beingevaluated. Water reservoir can also be created by digging a large hole forcollecting rainwater that will fall to the ground. This is usually done in aridregions and consequently, water reservoirs are important for CSA. Dripirrigation involves dispensing water to the crops using drip tubes. Dripirrigation ensures that the crop gets exactly the amount of water needed forgrowth and yield and thus avoids wastage of water which could just be sprinkledon the land to dry up without serving any purpose to the crop (Suresh Kumar etal., 2016).
Combiningwater reservoir and drip irrigation in CSA will ensure that the minimal wateravailable is efficiently and effectively used to ensure maximum yield.Carrying out CBAon this practice, the cost involved in this practice would be:Equipment used forexcavating the soil, equipment needed to line the excavated pit, labour costfor making the excavations, time consumed for making the excavations, fuel tobe consumed when making the excavations, cost for the drip tubes and drip tips.The benefitsinvolved in this practice would be: It ensures continuous water supply to thecrops throughout the season and also sees to that exactly the right amount ofwater is supplied to the crop, it avoids wastage of water, it ensurescontinuous yield of crops throughout the year.Heat and waterstress-tolerant maize variety, Pest and disease-tolerant bean variety: Twocommon indicators of CBA is Net present value (NPV) and Internal rate of return(IRR). The IRR is defined as the discount rate (in this case 12%) which makesNPV equal to zero.The payback period (PP) also plays animportant role for CBA of climate smart agricultural practices.
Payback periodrefers to the time needed to repay the initial investment (which includesmaterial, labour and installation costs). The payback period should begenerally within 1 to 2 years considering minimal financial risks for smallproducers. The costs for adapting both the maize and bean variety includeinstallation costs and maintenance costs which includes both labour andmaterial costs. The benefit is discussed in the next section.
Heat and waterstress-tolerant maize variety: ICTA B-7 a local maize variety tolerant toheat and limited water scarcity was introduced. The benefit of Heat and waterstress-tolerant maize variety is that the payback period is 2 years and is highlypro?table in the conditions of the Dry Corridor in Guatemala as the entiredistribution of the Internal Rate of Return lies over the value of 12%. As amatter of fact, there is a 90% probability of getting an IRR greater than 122%.Pest and disease-tolerantbean variety: ICTA Ligero bean variety with tolerance toBean Golden Mosaic Virus was introduced.
The benefit of Pest anddisease-tolerant bean variety is that the payback period is 1 year and ishighly cost-effective practice when the high frequency of the pest occurrence,the subsequent yield losses, and low cost implied in changing variety isavoided. The entire distribution of the Internal Rate of Return lies over the12% value. As a matter of fact, there is a 90% probability of getting an IRR morethan 600%. Both the varieties have benefits in CSA practice when compared tothe conventional varieties of maize and bean. But, ICTA Ligero Pest and diseasetolerant bean variety emerges as the stronger choice for the farmers in theregion.
(ICTA- Instituto de Ciencia yTecnología Agrícolas Institute of agricultural science and technology)CONCLUSION: Cost benefit analysis is a tool that can beused to assess the profitability of different CSA practices. For majority of policy makers most decisions forinvesting andpromotion of most agricultural practices is based on two issues: whether theagricultural practice to be promoted will be beneficial to farmers – as thislargely determines its implementation potential and adoption; and whethersociety will benefit from adoption and implementation of such CSA practices. Insuch scenarios CBA plays an important role as it can evaluate investmentoptions. Thus, Cost benefitanalysis is one platform for assessing the risks, economic profitability andimpacts associated with private benefits as well as externalities associatedwith the climate smart agriculture practice.