Journal Article: Precarious Prospects? Exploring Climate Resilience of Agricultural Commercialization Pathways in Tanzania and Zimbabwe

By: Andrew Newsham, Lars Otto Naess, Khamaldin Mutabazi, Toendepi Shonhe, Gideon Boniface and Tsitsidzashe Bvute

Smallholder agricultural commercialization is a central objective across Africa, one linked to poverty reduction, sectoral transformation and increasingly, climate resilience and adaptation. There is much attention given to the extent to which agricultural commercialization serves to reduce poverty, but less to the commercialization pathways that lead towards or away from that outcome. There are, likewise, many studies that project hugely adverse future impacts of climate change on commercial agricultural production, but surprisingly little empirical work on how climate impacts are affecting current agricultural commercialization prospects and pathways for smallholder farmers. This paper, therefore, offers an analysis of levels of climate vulnerability and resilience within existing commercialization pathways in Tanzania and Zimbabwe. It embeds the account within an analysis of the underlying causes of uneven distributions of vulnerability and resilience. We find that while being able to practise commercially viable agriculture can contribute to resilience, it does not do so for the people who most need commercialization to reduce poverty. It is more common for farmers to face what we term an adaptation trap. We conclude by considering what these cases add to our understanding of climate-smart agriculture (CSA).

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