14 May 2019

IIASA research supports climate-smart agriculture in Zambia

IIASA researchers contributed to a new plan for climate-smart agriculture investment in Zambia, released by the World Bank and the Government of Zambia.

© Djembe | Dreamstime

© Djembe | Dreamstime

A new report from the World Bank and the Zambian Ministry of Agriculture shows that there could be significant potential for climate-smart agriculture technologies in Zambia to accelerate agricultural growth in the face of climate change. The report was developed with support from IIASA researchers and the Food and Agriculture Organization.

In Zambia and other Sub-Saharan African countries, agriculture is increasingly vulnerable to climate change. Climate has become increasingly variable over the past few decades, with drought, seasonal and flash flooding, and extreme temperatures occurring more frequently. At the same time, the government of Zambia is working to achieve greenhouse gas reductions and make its agriculture sector more resilient to climate change.

Climate-smart agriculture refers to a number of practices that can sustainably increase productivity and resilience to changing climate conditions, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions. These practices are of growing interest for countries facing impacts from climate change on agriculture.

IIASA researchers Michiel van Dijk, Amanda Palazzo, Petr Havlík, Tamas Krisztin and Stefan Frank contributed a working paper to the report, which focuses on how climate change will affect agricultural production, and what impact the adoption of climate smart agriculture could have on both food production and greenhouse gas emissions.

They found that that climate smart agriculture practices would have a largely positive effects on crop yield, agricultural production, food security and climate mitigation although impact differs across the various practices.

“Adoption of climate smart practices will contribute to the reaching the Zambia Vision on agricultural development but cannot close the gaps completely,” says van Dijk, who led IIASA’s contribution to the report.

The researchers began their work through two stakeholder meetings in Zambia, where they shared preliminary research results for comments and participated in field visits. Using information from various policy documents and stakeholders—including NGOs, ministries and research organizations—the researchers developed scenarios which they then modeled using the IIASA Global Biosphere Management Model (GLOBIOM).

“We used the GLOBIOM model to look at the agricultural trends of Zambia to 2050 and to quantify the impacts on greenhouse gas emissions, land use change, and food security of nine climate smart agriculture practices, including conservation agriculture, reduction in post-harvest losses, expansion of agroforestry, and adoption of drought-tolerant maize varieties,” says Palazzo.

The Zambian government expects that the report will be a key piece of information in helping the country achieve its climate and agriculture vision.

“Given the uncertainties of climate change and variability of weather conditions for growing crops, it’s vital that we analyze the impact of climate-smart technologies to guide decision-making. At a time when both drought and flooding are occurring more frequently, we need to understand what constitutes ‘no-regret” actions. This report will help better integrate proven climate-smart agriculture practices into Zambia’s agriculture policy and investments,” says Ina Ruthenberg, World Bank Country Manager for Zambia.


World Bank (2019). Climate-Smart Agriculture Investment Plan Zambia: Analyses to support the climate-smart development of Zambia’s agriculture sector. 

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Last edited: 14 May 2019


Michiel van Dijk

Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

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Amanda Palazzo

Research Scholar

Ecosystems Services and Management

T +43(0) 2236 807 457

Ansa Heyl

Press Officer and Editor


Communications and External Relations

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