Climate-smart agriculture (CSA) as a credible alternative to tackle food insecurity under the changing climate is gaining wide acceptance. However, many developing countries have realized that concepts that have been recommended as solutions to existing problems are not suitable in their contexts. This paper synthesizes a subset of literature on CSA in the context of small-scale agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa as it relates to the need for CSA, factors influencing CSA adoption, and the challenges involved in understanding and scaling up CSA. Findings from the literature reveal that age, farm size, the nature of farming, and access to extension services influence CSA adoption. Many investments in climate adaptation projects have found little success because of the sole focus on the technology-oriented approach whereby innovations are transferred to farmers whose understanding of the local farming circumstances are limited. Climate-smart agriculture faces the additional challenge of a questionable conceptual understanding among policymakers as well as financing bottlenecks. This paper argues that the prospects of CSA in small-scale agriculture rest on a thorough socio-economic analysis that recognizes the heterogeneity of the small farmer environment and the identification and harnessing of the capacities of farming households for its adoption and implementation.
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