The Participatory Agroclimatic Committees are an initiative implemented by the Honduran Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock that brings together representatives from different sectors in order to share information on climate change relating to the agricultural sector.
Problems and Purpose
The project's aims are to integrate actors across the agricultural sector (particularly on a localised scale) in order to mitigate the adverse effects of climate change on their crops. This is done by informing local actors about climate predictions, how climate change might affect their produce and mitigation strategies they may adopt.
Background History and Context
This strategy was adopted and modelled after several in the Latin American region. Precedent was set after the Columbian ministry of Agriculture and Rural development (MADR) with support from the Research program for Climate change, agriculture and food security created the first local Agroclimatic Technical committees. This in turn was influenced by the sharing of experiences of climate mitigation strategies among farmers in Senegal which had shown some successes. The Honduran ministry of Agriculture and livestock continued this precedent and created the Agro-environmental, Climate Change and Risk management unit in 2016. This unit in turn created committees across Honduras among various local departments. It is not the first project present in Honduras that focuses on sustainable agriculture, however it is the first to make use of the agroclimatic committees that acts as a coordinator of actors in localised settings across the country. This push towards increasing the protection of agriculture from effects of climate change is an important one in Honduras, as coffee, bananas and palm oil alone account for nearly 20% of product exports. (The observatory of economic complexity, Honduras 2019)
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
The importance of the agricultural sector across society in Honduras is reflected in it's participant base and contributors. Participatory agro-climate committees are made up of any actors and stakeholders that in local regions in Honduras. This includes local government, civil society members, local and international NGO's, professionals, entrepreneurs, academics, farmers, micro enterprises, female and youth associations. (CCAFS, 2017) Each committee chooses it's own board of directors; outlines it's area of influence, mission, vision and operational plan. The committees then create coordination and planning spaces in which stakeholders come together to deliberate over climate change mitigation strategies after being given information and predictions detailing the challenges posed by climate change. This eventually culminates in the production of a newsletter, that is disseminated across local areas that includes recommendations specific to the main crops of the local region. This includes information regarding the El Nino/La Nina phenomena, seasonal weather and agro-climactic conditions. In regards to the funding of these processes,no direct figures are given. However, it can be assumed that funding was scarce as the Honduran government only allocated 1.22 dollars per person in climate adaptation funding in 2018. (World Disasters Report, 2020)
Participant Recruitment and Selection
In respect to how a wide range of participants were collected, the initiative made an effort to recruit any regional stakeholders across industries and sectors. For example, local government, NGO's and academics worked alongside local farmers, entrepreneurs, and women and youth networks. The project employed (as part of it's recruitment strategy) alliances with 32 producer organisations, 23 private sector actors, 5 academic institutions, 21 international organisations and 11 international institutions. Although the focus is placed upon key stakeholders, it is open to any interested party regardless of their occupation or relation to the agricultural sector. The purpose of bringing this variety of participants is a part of the strategy of the program, to close the gap between "agro-climate information generation and its use by farmers" (Tailored agro-climate services, CCAFS, n.d). Thus government NGO's can provide expertise regarding climactic change, which may be combined with the local workers experiences and knowledge of the local harvest and area.
Methods and Tools Used
These independent and private bodies are an integral part of the method, which was to increase technical capacity among agro-climate actors by deliberation between participants. Thus combining both academic and practical forms of knowledge and expertise, and by developing climate mitigation strategies. Finally, information provided by both sectors is interpreted and deliberated upon, and used to formally adopt strategies and recommendations; later used to create an agro-climate newsletter that is syndicated amongst local actors that provide crucial information and mitigation strategies to combat the effects of climate change. The specific techniques and tools used in the process include historical analysis, use of monitoring systems and climate forecasts. These tools help frame the deliberation and impact how strategies are made.
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The tools in question used were a means of educating local stakeholders that would otherwise not have access to technical climate information and forecasts. This is integral to the method as they are combined with local information to increase the adaptability of local agriculture; this includes recognising impacts relating to gender and food security and improving formatting of information given to local farmers. This shows that deliberation between participants of different backgrounds, sectors and professions was an invaluable part of the project as it relies upon the both theoretical and technological information with that of local expertise as a means of building the capacity of the project. Thus the quality of deliberation should be considered to be quite high as all participants are involved at all parts of the process, including, identification of challenges, strategy formulation and newsletter production; as each constituent part of the participants played the role of learner and educator. There was a concerted effort to allow the inclusion of female perspectives, through gender-aggregated feedback on new projects, that will lead to an increased number of women and other marginalised actors being in prominent roles in decision making and potential outcomes.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Regarding outcomes, it could be said that the LTAC's have enjoyed a moderate amount of success; in it's aims to increase resilience among local agricultural committees in Honduras (and wider Latin America), it has mitigated effects of local climate change to enough of an extent to have revealed a marked change.
These outcomes are present in both economic and social dimensions, with the specific methodology of collaboration between public and private stakeholders; particularly including women, whose perspectives were institutionally overlooked in previous iterations of local politics.
Economically, the improved “innovation capacity” has increased “17% and 23% for both coffee and bean production in the 10 communities of Copán and Choluteca after the implantation of the climate adaptation strategies – this has been directly attributed to the combination of local sector's expertise.(Horacio Rodríguez Vázquez, ResCa, 2019)
Whereas socially, the impacts of the LTACs have lead to more opportunities for women to assert themselves in areas of discussion that they have previously be denied. The inclusive nature of the LTAC is geared toward accumulating the most diverse inputs from local shareholders as possible – and so to exclude women for whatever reason would compromise it's success. And thus, “women share their knowledge with the rest of the community. It also improves the women's ability to use agro-climactic information to make better-informed decisions about their crops” (Climate Change & Gender Equity in Honduras ,CCAFS ,2020)
As a result, of not only being included in participation but education also, it improves the quality of life and prospects for female participants. The eduction being provided means that women are better able to be self sufficient if needed; and so LTAC's play “ a key role in the empowerment of rural women and achieving comprehensive development in communities.” (Climate Change & Gender Equity in Honduras ,CCAFS ,2020)
Analysis and Lessons Learned
As such, it could be said that the project had a good track record regarding inclusiveness. Whilst this may to be considered correct in regards to it's policy towards female participants; it is worth noting that there is little to no mention of any concerted effort regarding representing any other groups that have historically faced challenges regarding participating in local government. Such groups may include indigenous groups, or people of sexual or social backgrounds generally considered to be unacceptable in conservative regions. This may result in an increased disparity in vulnerability for people or communities that have found difficulty reaching ad participating in LTACs - creating deeper social and economic divisions.
In terms of it's effectiveness in utilising the perspectives of stakeholders, I would argue that the popular control is sufficient. The level of popular control is an important part of the methodology of LTACs detailed above, as the local knowledge is imperative for the success of the project. The more formalised knowledge of public officials and climate experts is useless rendered less effective if not tailored to the local communities needs, area and situation. Additionally; it can be argued that the perspectives of local stakeholders, particularly the farmers themselves, would be best suited in devising the how information is disseminated among other agricultural workers. It may also be said that according to Smith, the “sharing of power with other actors” (Graham Smith, 2009) can call the power of non specialist participants into question, if the 'other actors' in question are public and private officials and experts. I would maintain that Local technical Agricultural Committees are to an extent immune to this, as the information disseminated has to be tailored towards the very same demographic that comprise the 'local stakeholder' contingent of the project. This necessitates that in the ideation process the views and advice of local participants must be respected.
Contrary to this, it is also important that citizens of a non professional or official background are given enough information, advice and oversight so as to make reasonably informed decisions over the problems they are entrusted with helping to solve. It also requires participant to utilise the information and expertise provided for them with the perspectives of all those affected in mind (Graham Smith, 2009). Similarly to the project's strength in inclusiveness, it's success depends on all participants of all backgrounds being an integral part of each process; from capacity building, deliberation and formulation of mitigation strategies and their dissemination. Thus each demographic among the participant body is represented fairly. Whilst no information is given regarding the level of media attention and scrutiny towards the process; inferences can be made that the with the wide scale distribution of newsletters and other media that include the strategies made by the committees allow for a certain degree of popular scrutiny across the country. This is limited however, as the media produced is often targeted and distributed to agricultural communities and so the possibilities of scrutiny from experts with differing views (if they exist) may not be available. Similarly, efficiency is not explicitly mentioned in literature regarding LTACs in Honduras. However, deriving from the figure given prior regarding the government budget towards climate adaptability we can suggest that the process is fairly efficient regarding it's use of state funding. With the participants in mind, it may be assumed that for officials and experts, the barrier to entry in terms of time away from work, free time etc. is lower than it is for local stakeholders. The importance of ensuring the long term survival of local agriculture may be considered to be worthwhile despite any short term losses in productivity. The influence of this on efficiency of the project is unclear however.
One aspect where the project excels is it's transferability, as it has been applied in several countries using similar methodology such as Columbia and Guatemala. The approach is particularly suited towards countries with a large presence of local-scale agriculture, and an economy in which agriculture is relied upon, such as Honduras Coincidentally, countries with large agricultural sectors that make up a large proportion of their economy generally those considered to be less developed and part of the 'second' or 'third' world. In which case, the design of the agro-climate committee allows for both national, regional and international expertise to be integrated – and so long as there is enough inputs to draw from. Additionally, this case study has proven that this democratic innovation can be implemented regardless of access to state-of-the-art technology and large amounts of government funding; the inclusiveness and high amount of popular control also allow for a good deal of specificity due to the level of in-depth and meaningful participation from local stakeholders.
CCAFS (June 2017) available at: Honduras makes progress with Participatory Agroclimatic Committees (cgiar.org) Accessed at 22/05/21
CCAFS (June, 2020) available at : Climate Change & Gender Equity in Honduras | Agrilinks Accessed at: 22/05/21
CCAFS (n.d) available at :Tailored agro-climate services and food security information for better decision making in Latin America (cgiar.org) Accessed at 22/05/21
Giraldo, Diana C., Camacho, K., Navarro-Racines, C., Martinez-Baron, D., Prager, S., Ramirez-Villegas, J. (2019) Outcome Harvesting: Assessment of the transformations generated by Local Technical Agroclimatic Committees in Latin America. CCAFS Working Paper No. 299 CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS)
ResCA, (2019) available at: The ResCA Honduras Promoted Agro-climate Information Tools were Presented at the Innovation in the Americas Week: The ResCA Honduras Promoted Agro-climate Information Tools were Presented at the Innovation in the Americas Week – ResCA (resilientcentralamerica.org) Accessed at: 22/05/21
Smith, G. (2009).Democratic Innovations: Designing Institutions for Citizen Participation (Theories of Institutional Design). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi:10.1017/CBO9780511609848
The observatory of economic complexity, Honduras (2019) available at: Honduras (HND) Exports, Imports, and Trade Partners | OEC - The Observatory of Economic Complexity accessed at: 22/05/21
World Disasters Report (2020), available at: World disasters report 2020 - International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (ifrc.org) Accessed at 22/05/21