Senwes Scenario Oktober / November 2015 - Page 55

F UT UR E F O CUS ••• JENNY MATHEWS HOW CLIMATE-SMART ARE YOU? I I SOMETIMES THINK THAT IT WOULD BE RATHER NICE TO BE ABLE TO GAZE INTO A CRYSTAL BALL TO SEE WHAT LIES IN STORE FOR US FARMERS. I TRY SO HARD TO BE HOPEFUL, OPTIMISTIC AND PROACTIVE BUT THEN THERE ARE DAYS WHEN THE DUST WINDS BLOW CLOUDS SO THICK THAT I HAVE TO SWITCH THE LIGHTS ON IN THE MIDDLE OF THE DAY AND EVERY THING I TOUCH OR EAT HAS A GRITTY FEEL AND I CAN’T HELP THINKING THAT THE DESERT IS NOT COMING… IT HAS ARRIVED!!! must also confess that at the moment I am trying to finish my studies with a dissertation on climate risk and how it impacts farmers – and reading UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon’s personal confession that he believes the greatest collective challenge facing humankind today is climate change, has contributed to my sense of ‘August gloom’. On the international stage climate risk is viewed as a serious disaster with calamitous implications, not only for the individual farmers but for entire communities and national governments. Most farmers in the central Free State and Northwest province will agree that new trends have been noticeable over the past 10 – 20 years as evidenced by the fact that ideal planting dates have shifted by at least 2 weeks. We just have not been getting our normal ‘ploughing’ rains in early October so that we can start planting by 15 – 20 November; instead we have a ‘new ideal’ which is 5 December. CLIMATE RISK IMPACTS THE PURSE Climate risk impacts could cost nations billions of rands in future, which will not be available for spending on normal development and improving the conditions and livelihoods of the poorest and most marginalised communities. Most farmers will agree that they can identify with the ‘pinch on the purse’ as the economies on the farm have become more challenging. Costs keep rising and profit margins have been shrinking. It seems that, despite advances with drought resistant maize cultivars and more sophisticated machines, our yields are not keeping pace with input cost increases and erratic rainfall patterns. I WILL NOT ONLY SURVIVE, I WILL THRIVE! But let’s look at the positives in this … South African farmers are known around the globe for being excellent farmers who like to stay on the cutting edge of new developments and this ‘n-Boer-maak-‘n-plan attitude is going to see them making plans to cope and to not only survive but to thrive in the future! Ban Ki-moon also says he believes there is still time for us to take up the challenge, make changes and adapt, “I am deeply concerned … but I am also hopeful because I see gains on multiple fronts towards a low-carbon future.” Take a look around - already there are signs of adapting to climate changes and variability (South African scientists seem to prefer to use the term ‘climate risk’ which covers the theories of climate change, climate variability and global environmental change). And yes, knowledge IS power! We need to be informed, we need to become more efficient and we need to be more aware. The classic equation for understanding disaster risk is Risk = Hazard x Vulnerability. As farmers we need to identify the hazards and then assess our level of vulnerability to those. Every farmer’s su