Over the last three years, 1 303 SIZA members decided to closely monitor and manage their water practices. Two hundred and thirty-three of these members agreed to participate in the SIZA CARES continuous improvement programme, and 103 asked to go through a third-party audit.
Climate change is commonly known for changing weather patterns, extreme weather conditions, rise in temperatures, floods, and droughts. Within the South African context, the effect of climate change could be observed across the country, as certain areas faced prolonged droughts, intermittent rainfall, and flooding conditions. As climate change interferes with normal production operations and planning, food security is becoming a significant concern.
Climate change is an ongoing threat to agriculture; therefore, it is crucial for the industry to be proactive in mitigating and adapting to climate change within South Africa. The SIZA audit focuses on monitoring and evaluating the implementation of environmental management practices that fight climate change. These environmental management practices range from implementing mitigation practices to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to improving agriculture’s resilience against climate change by implementing adoption measures.
With greenhouse gas emissions being one of the most significant contributors to climate change, it is essential for South African agriculture to address climate change by implementing measures to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions. Precision and conservation agriculture should be prioritised to improve input efficiency and protect the natural environment. The mitigation of climate change and greenhouse gas emissions is a global responsibility. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), agriculture provides a significant potential for greenhouse mitigation. By implementing precision agricultural practices, agriculture can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by improving energy efficiency, enhancing nitrogen management, and prioritising soil conservation practices as a method of carbon sequestration.
The SIZA Digital Recordkeeping Programme enables producers to capture their production inputs that contribute to greenhouse gas emissions using standardised methods. As production inputs such as fertiliser, electricity, fuel, and plant protection products contribute to a business’s greenhouse gas emissions, the SIZA Digital Recordkeeping Programme is designed to assess the effectiveness of current management practices while allowing members to calculate their carbon footprint and set targets for reduction.
The SIZA Environmental Standard contributes to the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and adaption of climate change by improving input efficiency of practices such as fertiliser application, chemical usage, and fuel and electricity usage, as well as the implementation of practices to improve water use efficiency, reducing evaporation, conserving natural water sources, and cultivating climate-resilient crops. The SIZA Environmental audit enables members to monitor continuous improvement so that they can move towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions while improving their resilience against climate change.
Furthermore, adaption practices to cope with extreme heat or drought should be implemented. Adaption practices against climate change are commonly known as adjustments in agricultural practices and systems to cope with the changes in climate. The overall goal of adaption is to improve the business’s resilience against climate change. Adoption strategies that are most likely to succeed in enhancing resilience for agriculture are efforts aimed at enhancing food security, ensuring water availability, combating land degradation and soil erosion, reducing loss of biodiversity and protecting ecosystem services.
As agriculture holds the most considerable potential to fight against climate change, it is vital to adopt an integrated approach towards improving resilience against climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.