With the agricultural industry being a significant contributor to climate change, the SIZA Environmental Standard goes beyond the management of associated risks through the implementation of SIZA’s online Digital Recordkeeping Programme, which will allow members from all sectors and commodities (at the local and global scale) to capture their production inputs and calculate their carbon footprint to monitor progress made towards sustainability targets.

There are many drivers of the agricultural sector in South Africa, each of which can have wide-ranging impacts on the production of food, fibre, and timber. One of these drivers that already varies from year to year is that of climate. Climate information is vital for optimising agricultural practices in the agricultural industry and assisting day-to-day operational planning. However, agriculture is now faced with the challenge of adapting to ever-fluctuating climatic conditions caused by climate change.

Climate change, often identified as global warming, has climatic effects well beyond the average temperature increases. In South Africa, climate change poses a significant threat to water resources, food security, ecosystem functioning and biodiversity conservation. As South Africa is the 12th largest CO2 emitter in the world, it needs to accept its responsibility for urgently reducing its carbon emissions. Through climatic data modelling, it was observed that some regions in South Africa are expected to warm at twice the global average rate. Temperature increases of up to 4 degrees Celsius in the East of the country are projected to have an increased risk of heavy rains and tropical cyclones, whereas temperature increases of up to 6 degrees Celsius in the West of the country increase the risk of droughts and heat waves.

Agriculture in South Africa faces various risks associated with climate change, such as changes in rainfall patterns, increased evaporation rates, higher temperatures, increased occurrence of pests and diseases, shifts in pest and disease distribution ranges, reduced yields, and spatial shifts in optimum growing regions. The emergence of these risks requires urgent, ambitious action to promote the resilience and adaption of South Africa’s agricultural sector to climate change impacts. As agriculture also largely contributes to carbon emissions, it is both affected by and contributing to the effects of climate change. It is crucial that climate-smart agricultural practices are prioritised to ensure food security while reducing carbon emissions.

What is Climate-Smart Agriculture?

Climate-smart agriculture can be defined as an approach for transforming and reorienting agricultural development under the new realities and challenges of climate change. It is an integrated approach to managing agriculture that helps to guide actions to transform agricultural systems towards green- and climate-resilient practices. Climate-smart agriculture addresses the shared challenges of food security and the accelerated change in the climate. This reference is often used for agricultural practices that sustainably increase productivity, enhance agroecological resilience and reduce carbon emissions.

How can Climate-Smart Agriculture be achieved?

The SIZA Environmental standard contributes to implementing climate-smart agricultural practices by following an integrated approach and monitoring the implementation of practices to improve soil health, improve water use efficiency, reduce the need for agrochemical applications, improve energy efficiency and conserve biodiversity.

SIZA offers combined audit solutions with both GLOBALG.A.P./SPRING and Rainforest Alliance to ensure that there will not be duplication.