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Climate-smart agriculture: what is it good for?

Leading international organisations presently argue that a transition to ‘climate-smart agriculture’ (CSA) is an obligatory task to ensure food supply for an anticipated nine billion people by 2050. Despite the rubric’s newfound importance, the conceptual underpinnings of CSA are often left unclear. Focusing on the World Bank’s framework, this paper (in The Journal of Peasant Studies, Volume 45, 2018 – Issue 1), critically interrogates the principles and concepts that underpin CSA. It argues that while CSA provides greater policy space for more holistic approaches to agriculture, it nonetheless operates within an apolitical framework that is narrowly focused on technical fixes at the level of production. This depoliticised approach to the global food system tends to validate existing policy agendas and minimize questions concerning power, inequality, and access. By highlighting four strong tensions that permeate the CSA framework, the paper extols the need to greatly widen the scope of debate. To this end, it proposes an alternative ‘climate-wise’ framework to foreground the inherently political dimensions of food and agriculture in an era of climatic change. (Read More)