Critical Thinking

Climate variety. Mulching: it is a CSA practice

Climate
smart agriculture (CSA) is an integrated approach to developing policy,
technical and investment conditions to acquire sustainable agricultural growth
for food security under varying climatic conditions. Farmers with small land
holdings following traditional methods of agriculture without considering the
aspect of climate change are now benefited with CSA as there is very little
risk by practicing it. CSA brings together practices, institutions and policies
that are not new but in the context of climatic change which is unfamiliar to
farmers.

This
paper analyses CSA in Guatemala, which was ranked 9th among countries most
affected by extreme climate events in the past two decades.

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The
main aim of this study is to assess the costs and benefits of climate-smart
agriculture in Guatemala.

The
method used in assessing the climate-smart agriculture in Guatemala includes:

Literature
review on practices used in CSA with respect to their costs and benefits and
Literature review on crops used in CSA with respect to their costs and
benefits.

Concerning
obtaining secondary data sources using the literature review on practices in
CSA, the following practices employed in CSA will be considered based on their
costs and benefits: Mulching, Crop rotation, Contour farming, Water reservoir/
ponds + drip irrigation.

These
practices will be explained in detail in the subsequent sections. 

Concerning
obtaining secondary data sources using literature review on crops used in CSA, cost-benefit
analyses 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 the
surface of soil.  The materials used as mulch
could be dead plant materials or polythene materials (Dalorima et al., 2014).
Mulching is very important in CSA for the following reasons: it helps in conserving
soil moisture (by preventing evaporation), improving fertility and health of
the soil, reducing weed growth and enhancing the visual appeal of the area. The
types of mulching materials used in Guatemala are polyethylene- black mulch,
polyethylene- SRM red mulch, mana grass and Guatemala grass. The mulch applied
covers the soil surface and thus does not leave the soil bare, consequently
preventing soil erosion. Finally, when mulch made of plant material decomposes,
additional nutrients are added to the soil (Baye Berihun, 2011). Carrying out
cost and benefits (CBA) on mulching as a CSA practice, the following can be
outlined as part of the cost when mulching is employed: cost for equipment and
machinery that would be used for making the mulch, cost for labour and cost for
polythene materials when polythene are used as mulching materials.  In addition, when mulch is applied, seeds
remain dormant and if they will even germinate, they take much longer time.

Regarding
the benefits associated application of mulching, the following can be outlined:
it increases crop yield by helping conserving soil moisture consequently making
soil water available to crops. Mulch made of plant materials decompose and add additional
nutrients to the soil thereby improving fertility and health of the soil.
Mulching reduces weed growth and thereby reducing the amount of money needed to
clear weeds in terms of applying weedicides or using mechanical methods.  The mulch applied covers the soil surface and
thus do not leave the soil bear, consequently preventing soil erosion. This
implies that no new land is necessary needed to be sought after for the next
growing season since the previous soil’s properties are kept intact.

Crop Rotation: it is the practice of growing a series of
different types of crops on the same piece of land by alternating them in
different sequential growing seasons. The original land on which crop rotation
is 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 of
plots because if you do not have enriched soils it is hard to produce quality
goods. As the farms are often steep or rocky, only a small portion of land is
available, this small portion of land is thus used for crop rotation.

For
example, when we cultivate leguminous crops in one growing season on a piece of
land, the green leaves together with the other wastes are ploughed into the
soil after the growing season and thus replenishing the fertility of the soil
back into it. In the next growing season, a different crop like maize can be
cultivated on this same land which has gained its fertility and the rotation
can continue. Crop rotation often uses a leguminous crop together with other
non-leguminous in alternation in the growing seasons. 

Carrying
out CBA on this practice, the cost involved in this practice would be: Equipment
used for ploughing the legumes into the soil, cost of fuel that would be bought
for operating the ploughing machine and the other mechanization process, labour
cost is also factored, time consumed for the ploughing process.

The
benefits involved in this practice would be: Yield will be twice when manure is
applied, crop rotation maintains the soil nutrients, it also helps in improving
the soil stability, it prevents soil erosion because the land is always covered
with some crops, availability of cheap organic manure since after harvesting
the 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 lines
of consistent elevation or mountainous areas in order to conserve rainwater and
to reduce soil losses from surface erosion (Saeid Shahvarooghi Farahani
et al., 2016). These are done by means of making furrows, crop rows, and wheel
tracks across slopes. All of
these act as reservoirs to catch and retain rainwater, thus permitting
increased infiltration and more uniform distribution of
the water.
Contour farming has been
practiced usually in places where water is scarce and thus irrigation farming
is 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 farm
lands are prone to erosion as they are rocky and steep. Carrying out CBA on
this practice, the cost involved in this practice would be: Equipment used for
contouring and to make furrows, labour cost for making the contours, time consumed
for making the contours, fuel to be consumed when making the contours.   The
benefits involved in this practice would be: Prevention of soil erosion, retention
of soil water, it increases water infiltration into the soil and also helps in
slowing 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 or
artificial area created specially as a storage pond or impoundment to
store water. Water reservoirs can be created by
damming a stream that drains from an existing water body.

In
Guatemala   the use of low pressure drip
irrigation systems and rain water harvesters by impoverished farmers are being
evaluated. Water reservoir can also be created by digging a large hole for
collecting rainwater that will fall to the ground. This is usually done in arid
regions and consequently, water reservoirs are important for CSA. Drip
irrigation involves dispensing water to the crops using drip tubes. Drip
irrigation ensures that the crop gets exactly the amount of water needed for
growth and yield and thus avoids wastage of water which could just be sprinkled
on the land to dry up without serving any purpose to the crop (Suresh Kumar et
al., 2016).

Combining
water reservoir and drip irrigation in CSA will ensure that the minimal water
available is efficiently and effectively used to ensure maximum yield.

Carrying out CBA
on this practice, the cost involved in this practice would be:

Equipment used for
excavating the soil, equipment needed to line the excavated pit, labour cost
for making the excavations, time consumed for making the excavations, fuel to
be consumed when making the excavations, cost for the drip tubes and drip tips.

The benefits
involved in this practice would be: It ensures continuous water supply to the
crops throughout the season and also sees to that exactly the right amount of
water is supplied to the crop, it avoids wastage of water, it ensures
continuous yield of crops throughout the year.

Heat and water
stress-tolerant maize variety, Pest and disease-tolerant bean variety:

 Two
common 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 makes
NPV equal to zero.

The payback period (PP) also plays an
important role for CBA of climate smart agricultural practices. Payback period
refers to the time needed to repay the initial investment (which includes
material, labour and installation costs). The payback period should be
generally within 1 to 2 years considering minimal financial risks for small
producers. The costs for adapting both the maize and bean variety include
installation costs and maintenance costs which includes both labour and
material costs. The benefit is discussed in the next section.

Heat and water
stress-tolerant maize variety:

ICTA B-7 a local maize variety tolerant to
heat and limited water scarcity was introduced. The benefit of Heat and water
stress-tolerant maize variety is that the payback period is 2 years and is highly
pro?table in the conditions of the Dry Corridor in Guatemala as the entire
distribution of the Internal Rate of Return lies over the value of 12%. As a
matter of fact, there is a 90% probability of getting an IRR greater than 122%.

Pest and disease-tolerant
bean variety:

ICTA Ligero bean variety with tolerance to
Bean Golden Mosaic Virus was introduced. The benefit of Pest and
disease-tolerant bean variety is that the payback period is 1 year and is
highly cost-effective practice when the high frequency of the pest occurrence,
the subsequent yield losses, and low cost implied in changing variety is
avoided. The entire distribution of the Internal Rate of Return lies over the
12% value. As a matter of fact, there is a 90% probability of getting an IRR more
than 600%. Both the varieties have benefits in CSA practice when compared to
the conventional varieties of maize and bean. But, ICTA Ligero Pest and disease
tolerant bean variety emerges as the stronger choice for the farmers in the
region.  (ICTA- Instituto de Ciencia y
Tecnología Agrícolas Institute of agricultural science and technology)

CONCLUSION:

 

Cost benefit analysis is a tool that can be
used to assess the profitability of different CSA practices. For majority of policy makers most decisions for
investing and
promotion of most agricultural practices is based on two issues: whether the
agricultural practice to be promoted will be beneficial to farmers – as this
largely determines its implementation potential and adoption; and whether
society will benefit from adoption and implementation of such CSA practices. In
such scenarios CBA plays an important role as it can evaluate investment
options.

 

Thus, Cost benefit
analysis is one platform for assessing the risks, economic profitability and
impacts associated with private benefits as well as externalities associated
with the climate smart agriculture practice.

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