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 benefiting from 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 climate change these practices,
institutions and policies are 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. 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. 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. 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: This is a type of
CSA practise, where undulating parts of a land, especially on hilly and
mountainous areas are ploughed across the slope of the mountains for the
purposes of conserving rainwater and also to reduce soil erosion that might
otherwise have occurred. These are done by means of making furrows, crop rows,
and wheel tracks across slopes. The furrows made in the contours act as basins
for storing water consequently allowing the water to percolate into the soil
and helping with CSA.  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.

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 (ICTA- Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnología
Agrícolas Institute of agricultural science and technology) 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 high frequency of pest occurs. In addition,
subsequent yield losses and low cost implication for changing bean 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%.  Thus, both varieties
have benefits in CSA practice when compared to the conventional varieties of
maize and bean. These imply ICTA Ligero Pest and disease tolerant bean variety
emerges as the stronger choice for the farmers in the region, even preferred to
the maize.  

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 are based on two issues: whether the
agricultural practice to be promoted will be beneficial to farmers in the CSA –
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 climate smart agriculture practice and choice of planting materials.

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