What is the cost of climate change to smallholder farmers? Sourcemap joins forces with CIAT to find out

Adaptation zones in the Ghanaian cocoa sector overlaid with Cost of Inaction estimates

Adaptation zones in the Ghanaian cocoa sector overlaid with Cost of Inaction estimates

Smallholder farmers are going to save the world. Today, over 80 percent of the food in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa is grown by 500 million small-scale farms. Despite the great volume of food produced by smallholder famers, they generally have low access to technology, resources, and global markets.

Given that smallholders comprise over 30 percent of the world’s population and the majority of the world’s poor, smallholder sourcing programs provide a unique opportunity to make large-scale livelihood investments and support global poverty alleviation. And with the global population expected to exceed nine billion people by the year 2050, we are going to need to produce a lot more food—a lot more sustainably.

Global food companies are betting big on smallholders as the key to feeding the world and fighting climate change. Just two weeks ago, Mars committed to invest $1 billion in its value chain, promoting sustainable farming as a means to reducing greenhouse-gas emissions and reversing the impacts of climate change. In a written statement, Mars CEO Grant Reid said that "the engine of global business — its supply chain — is broken and requires transformational, cross-industry collaboration to fix it."

Although brands and governments are working to account for climate change’s projected impacts on global food production, the complexity of current models makes it difficult to drive actionable decisions. In order to spur the kind of transformational, cross-industry collaboration that Reid called for, Sourcemap and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) are working to create a Cost of Inaction Calculator—an easy-to-use modeling platform that translates future agricultural climate change risk into potential lost revenue to smallholders; helping identify smallholder producers’ climate adaptation needs and ensure sustainable supply chains.

By allowing users to easily model agricultural supply chains and climate risk exposure, in terms of lost revenue to smallholders, the COI Calculator will streamline decision-making and increase the resilience of agricultural value chains to climate change. Leveraging Sourcemap’s supply chain mapping technology and data, such as commodity volumes and prices, along with CIAT’s climate risk projections, the COI Calculator will measure the cost of doing business-as-usual for each farmer in a given supply chain; helping users identify the producers and crops for which investments will be most impactful for the coming decades. The COI Calculator democratizes long-term and strategic climate change planning for a wide range of stakeholders, bridging the gap between emerging climate science and the tactics of climate adaptation.

Update: the COI Calculator has been named as a finalist in the CGIAR Inspire Big Data Challenge! Join us at the CGIAR Big Data in Agriculture Conference to find out more.