USAID Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture Project

Project Background

The five-year, $1.68 million, Adaptation to Climate Change in Agriculture project, implemented by Rural Development Network, began in April 2012. The project introduced pioneering steps to address climate change adaptation issues in the agricultural sector. The project focused on implementation of measures in the Mediterranean zone, including the Vardar region and parts of Strumica and Sveti Nikole, agriculturally rich areas that are most affected by climate change. The project is organized around two main components:

  • Adaptive agricultural practices related to climate change – including investments for testing and promotion of simple and cost effective field-level adaptive practices targeting small farmers; and
  • Public awareness and civil society capacity strengthening – a comprehensive public awareness and outreach program combined with a capacity strengthening program tailored to the needs of grass-roots civil society institutions.

Within Component I, the project has tested new adaptive measures and techniques for decreasing the negative effects of climate change in 6 project modules: orchards, vineyards, vegetables, soil loss, water saving, and livestock. The project established 28 demonstration plots and farms for testing different adaptive measures such as: installation of UV protective nets to reduce sunburn damage on crops; utilization of various mulching techniques; introduction of cover crops; water-saving irrigation technologies; introduction of drought-tolerant crops; soil conservation practices, and reduction of heat stress in livestock. The weather stations placed by the ACCA project, provide the scientific and farming community with important weather data from the most climate-change affected areas of Macedonia.

The results from the tested adaptive measures were developed in advisory packages which include 11 different brochures, two studies (one on agriculture adaptation to climate change in Macedonia and a study on the effects of climate change on the livestock sector) and five videos on climate change adaptation in orchards, vineyards, vegetables, soil and livestock losses.

The results obtained included:

  • elimination of damage from hail in open-field vegetable and table grape production, and no sunburn damage to leaves and fruits covered with ultra-violet (UV) nets;
  • 55% higher yield in pear orchards due to the use of UV nets, and an increase in the quality of peaches due to new pruning and thinning techniques;
  • 24% increase in milk production due to installing ventilation and fogging systems in the summer when heat depresses milk yield, and a 12% increase in daily milk yield in farms using a new climate change adaptive nutrition regime;
  • 92% reduction of sediment loss with the use of contour soil cultivation techniques compared to traditional downslope soil cultivation;
  • 89% reduction of soil loss in downslope terrains sowed with cover crops; and
  • 50% of water saved with use of ultra-low volume drip irrigation.

Within Component II, more than 2,650 farmers, local government representatives, agriculture extension agents, CSOs, journalists, and university students participated in in-door and on-site workshops, the Climate Change Caravan, and in a quiz-bowl type Climate Change Contest for students from all 10 agricultural secondary schools, increasing the public’s knowledge and awareness of the impact of climate change on the agricultural sector in Macedonia.

Five Local Action Groups (LAGs) (LAG Belasica-Ograzden, LAG Bojmija, LAG Plachkovica, LAG Bregalnica, and LAG Malesh-Pijanec) were established under the principles of the EU LEADER approach. Through capacity strengthening activities, these LAGs, as public-private partnerships, finalized five Local Development Strategies incorporating actions to improve stakeholders’ inclusion in the decision-making process regarding relevant community issues. These initiatives encompass 21 municipalities of the East and Southeast Planning region.

Moreover, ACCA established a formal partnership with the National Extension Agency NEA in order to build the capacity of Macedonia’s agricultural advisors, which will ensure sustainable dissemination of the project’s cutting-edge work.

ACCA also implemented a number of activities that included direct technical assistance to the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Economy (MAFWE), civil society capacity building and LEADER activities in conjunction with the Regional Development Centers (RDC) in southeastern and eastern Macedonia. The project supported capacity building of the stakeholders from 21 municipalities from the Eastern and the Southeastern Planning Region, including the LEADER approach, which led to the development of five Local Action Group initiatives.

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