Conservation of Agrobiodiversity
Introducing climate-adaptive crops for food security and diversity
But agriculture and climate change are inextricably linked - crop yield, biodiversity, and water use, as well as soil health are directly affected by a changing climate. This poses a threat to many crops, especially grains such as maize, sorghum and millet and is certainly having impact on agricultural production and thus food security in Ethiopia. The unpredictability of weather events means that farmers need to adapt agricultural practise to hotter temperatures and tough conditions such as heavy rain falls and severe droughts. Thus, they will need to grow a wide range of crops which can deal with this stress as well as new pests and diseases.
The people at the Kafa Biosphere Reserve mainly live of subsistence farming, the sale of wild coffee and the services of natural resources like forest products for food, burning and building materials, medicinal plants, spices, animal feed, honey and wild coffee. Over the centuries they have adapted their land use traditions and customs to nature. Nevertheless, steady population growth, poverty, illegal immigration and agro-investment (e.g. tea, coffee) have led to an increasing pressure on the region's natural resources.
At the same time, the effects of climate change are noticeable in Kafa in form of irregular rainfalls, extreme weather events such as heavy rains or droughts, as well as the proliferation of pests. Especially wild Coffea arabica is proven to be sensitive. However, the potentials of alternative income-, food and energy sources are generally unexploited and old, adapted crops are unused and slide into oblivion. But especially adapted crops can contribute significantly to food security and an increased agricultural biodiversity.
The project therefore aims to analyse and identify climate-adaptive crops and introduce at least 5 resilient crops in form of pilot projects. This will be accompanied by a train-the-trainer programme for farmers will be conducted for promising crops, supported by the Kafa Biosphere Reserve rangers. In addition, the reintroduction and promotion of old crops that are well adapted to harsh climate and weather conditions will serve to establish food security, valuate biodiversity and make inhabitants less vulnerable to the effects of climate change.