OL 333 Climate Smart Agriculture

8 weeks. Courses are offered every two months. Current offering dates are in the column to the side.
To enroll, simply go to the bottom of this page.

Prerequisites: OL 102 – or – OL 342.
Why are there Prerequisites for Advanced Courses?

Laying out a conservation agriculture plot.

Climate Smart Agriculture. Depleted soils, unreliable access to water, outmoded agricultural practices and a lack of coping strategies for adapting to a changing climate are leading to reduced agricultural productivity, income generation, and food security for smallholder farmers worldwide.

Enroll now in OL 333.

To learn about course fees and to register please go to the bottom of this page.

What Students think about OL 333 Climate Smart Agriculture.
Hi Tim, Please find attached Assignment 5 for OL 333. I really enjoyed this assignment, I thought that the activities made sense and the training program I have developed is looking great (I even feel like I want to take this training program myself!)! I was actually looking forward to taking this course and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. Great course! Anne Desrochers, Barbados.

This past year CSDi has participated in a number of agricultural partner projects worldwide. We are seeing tremendous similarities between the projects: eroded topsoil, gullies, not enough water, too much water, drought, and a lack of knowledge of effective techniques for adapting to a changing climate. These challenges lead to reduced harvests, reduced income, and reduced food security.

Agricultural families suffer from widespread malnutrition caused by a changing climate. These challenges exacerbate the already complex problem of poverty due to a lack of agricultural income. Combined, they lead to chronically malnourished and frequently ill children—and an inability to purchase food and pay for children’s education and health care.

The solutions that students have been developing for their projects include a community-based Climate Smart Agricultural Program. In OL 333 students and their community members will first develop a participatory mapping of crop systems, and soil and water resources, and then consult with an expert in soil, water and agriculture to develop a participatory training process for developing a Climate Smart Agricultural Program specific to their local context.

The course includes an overview of climate smart agricultural practices complete with downloadable manuals and field guides for each technique. See the full syllabus below.

To earn a diploma in Integrated CBA, DRR and Rural Development, you must complete four required, sequential foundation courses, then select four elective courses (such as this one—OL 333) of your choice for a total of eight courses. With a wide variety of electives, you are able to tailor the diploma program to meet your contextual needs and interests.

What Students Think About the Online Courses


OL 333 Course Syllabus

Week 1. Local Context
Facilitating the organization of community-based Water Conservation and Management Committee.
  • Surveys and interviews to collect traditional knowledge on agriculture, changes in agricultural cycles, vulnerabilities and coping strategies.
  • If you conducted surveys in 343, you can use that data.
  • Facilitate the organization of a community based Farmer Association.
  • If you formed a committee in OL 343, you can simply form a subcommittee for for a new Farmer Association.
  • Identify expert specialist/extension agent in soil, water and agriculture to design and facilitate participatory capacity building workshops.
Week 2.
Community workshop on participatory mapping of water resources
  • Community workshop on participatory mapping of cropping systems, and soil and water resources, uses, challenges and ecosystem services.
  • If you did this in OL 343, you can use that information.
  • Identify important soil and water resources and challenges.
  • Prioritize degraded farmlands and resources for protection/restoration.
  • Strengthen community knowledge on adaptation to climate change.
Week 3. Survey of Solution-Oriented Adaptation Techniques
Water Management Committee
  • Low input agricultural technologies.
  • Conservation Agriculture.
Week 4.
Committee workshop on developing a community based water use
  • Mulching for reducing evaporative water loss and increasing organic material in the soil. Improving the organic matter of soils.
  • Contour leveling: level planting rows across hillside.
  • Stone and soil bunds to control runoff, increase soil moisture and reduce soil erosion.
  • Depressions to catch water for soil penetration; infiltration ditches.
  • Planting grass strips, trees, and hedgerows across the contour to reduce runoff velocity, improve water infiltration, and trap sediment.
Week 5.
Voting to prioritize which water conservation/management technique should be used first

Buffering against extended dry spells, the late arrival of rain and/or an early end to the rainy season, and from strong tropical rains.

  • Changing cropping cycle and crop mix
  • Multiple and rotational cropping.
  • Crop diversification.
  • Early maturing.
  • Drought resistant crop varieties.
Week 6.
Community evaluation results of participatory mapping of agricultural resources
  • Evaluate results of participatory mapping of agricultural resources and select appropriate, improved agricultural practices.
  • Overview for committee members of sustainable agricultural practices including soil restoration and conservation techniques, water conservation and management techniques.
  • Make an appointment to propose appropriate techniques to the Farmer Association Management Committee for feedback.
Week 7. Workshop Planning
Farmer digging in conservation agriculture field
  • Prioritize which soil/water conservation/restoration technique should be introduced in the first workshop.
  • Contact agricultural extension expert of feedback and input
  • Develop a workshop lesson plan.
  • Draw a how-to card.
  • Arrange the date and location for the workshop with your community contact person.
  • Arrange for supplies and tools for the workshop with your community contact person.
Week 8. Capacity Building
Facilitating a capacity building workshop at the demonstration plots.
  • Organize your own presentation materials.
  • Arrange for colleagues to accompany you in facilitating the workshop.
  • Ask agricultural extenion agent to join you in the workshop
  • Facilitate the capacity building workshop at the demonstration plots.

The Course also Provides the Following Resources

Documents on course topics by contemporary experts.
Books, posters and manuals available online for download.
Internet development links organized by sector.
Class forum for posting questions to your classmates.
There are no books to buy—all course materials can be linked to, or downloaded from the course site.

Visit the companion course: OL 332: Water Conservation and Management.

Course Fees
There are prerequisites for taking this course: Either OL 102 – or – OL 342. Please don’t sign up for this course if you haven’t successfully completed the prerequisites. Prerequisites are absolute: please do not ask us for an exception.
Why are there Prerequisites for Advanced Courses?

Choose which price fits your profile.
Course Fees:
1. The 8-week course is $100.00 for citizens of developing nations.
2. The 8-week course is $150.00 for citizens of developed nations.

When you are ready to pay, click ‘Enroll Now’ at the bottom of this page. Questions?: Online.Learning@csd-i.org .

You will be sent your Login username and password, and instructions for starting the course on the Monday before the course begins. We look forward to meeting you.

The online course will be led by Tim Magee, CSDi’s Executive Director, who has over 30 years experience in both working with nonprofits and leading training workshops. Mr. Magee is the author of A Field Guide to Community Based Adaptation published by Routledge/Earthscan.

If you have a question don’t hesitate to contact us at: Online.Learning@csd-i.org.

Space is limited.

Enroll now in OL 333.