Agricultural Technologies for Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation in Developing Countries: Policy Options for Innovation and Technology Diffusion

Travis Lybbert, Daniel Sumner
2010 unpublished
Climate has obvious and direct effects on agricultural production. Greenhouse gas (GHG) implications of agriculture are also obvious and large. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has reported that agriculture is responsible for over a quarter of total global greenhouse gas emissions. Given that agriculture's share in global gross domestic product (GDP) is about 4 percent, these figures suggest that agriculture is highly GHG intensive. This paper describes the potential role
more » ... ovative agricultural practices and technologies can play in climate change mitigation and adaptation and aims to address the question: what policy and institutional changes are needed to encourage the innovation and diffusion of these practices and technologies to developing countries? We focus on developing countries in general with some specific references to Africa. Concerns about mitigating and adapting to climate change are renewing the impetus for investments in agricultural research and are emerging as additional innovation priorities. In the coming decades, the development and effective diffusion of new agricultural practices and technologies will largely shape how and how well farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change. This adaptation and mitigation potential is nowhere more pronounced than in developing countries where agricultural productivity remains low; poverty, vulnerability and food insecurity remain high; and the direct effects of climate change are expected to be especially harsh. Most new technologies change the use of farm inputs, often in ways that alter the impact of weather on production and of production on carbon emissions. We describe some technologies that seem particularly promising in mitigating or adapting to climate change and use these as a platform for exploring the policies and institutions necessary to support the development and diffusion of current technologies -and to provide incentives for technological breakthroughs in the future. While new traits, varieti es and crops will play an important role, the range of relevant practice and technologies is much broader than this, including water management, production practices, post-harvest technologies, information and forecasting, and insurance. Creating the necessary agricultural technologies and harnessing them to enable developing countries to adapt their agricultural systems to changing climate will require innovations in policy and institutions as well. In this context, institutions and policies are important at multiple scales. Impediments to the development, diffusion and use of relevant technologies can surface at several levels -from the inception and innovation stages to the transfer of technologies and the access to agricultural innovations by vulnerable smallholders in developing countries. Potential constraints to innovation involve both the private and public sectors in both developing and developed countries. While the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) has been invaluable to developing countries as a source of agricultural innovation for nearly 40 years, many countries have a long history of large, direct government intervention in both input and output markets in agriculture that have stifled the formation of vibrant private firms and accompanying incentives to innovate. The process of transferring agricultural innovations across agro-ecological and climatic zones is often subject to agronomic constraints. Agricultural biotechnology has relaxed some of these agronomic constraints, but it raises a new set of potential impediments in the form of biotechnology regulations. Although intellectual property (IP) can also constrain technology transfer, it is almost never the most important barrier. Where IP seems to pose a problem, recent institutional and legal innovations provide a point of departure for effective remedies.
doi:10.22004/ag.econ.320104 fatcat:kdsgemgsizanhmulpyyctimyca