Characteristics of climate-smart and commercially astute agricultural extension professionals

Keywords: extension agent, skills, climate change


Sixteen of the world's hottest years since 1860 were in the last 17 years. Greenhouse gases cause global warming and climate change (CC). Climate change puts agriculture at a crossroads. The industry must adapt in order to feed a global population projected to reach 9.8 billion by 2050 and 11.2 billion by 2100. Adapting to CC requires agriculturalists at all levels to devise appropriate mitigation strategies. Business cannot be as usual. Climate change adds complexity to agriculture. To remain relevant, agricultural practitioners must be climate-smart (CS) in order to continue producing adequate, affordable, nutritious and safe food and fibre. Furthermore, agriculture is a business. It involves inputs, outputs, profit, loss, and is tied to the economic factors of production, land, labour, capital, and entrepreneurship. Therefore, the astute Agricultural Extension Professional/s (AEP/s) must be conversant not only with scientific and technical aspects of agriculture, its business and art, but also with emerging CC issues. The AEP must have relevant hard and soft skills that enable him/her to assist farmers adapt. This paper discusses the essential characteristics of a CS and commercially astute AEP in changing climate.

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