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Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Rescuing African Agriculture from Climate Change

Ministers of agriculture from 30 African countries, including Nigeria recently met to discuss actionable solutions to the threat posed by climate change to agriculture in Africa. The meeting was the 2nd annual ministerial conference of the Adapting African Agriculture (AAA) Initiative, themed “Food Security Facing Climate Change”.

The 2-day conference which was held at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Benguerir, Morocco, in partnership with OCP Africa, also had representatives of International and regional funding organizations and institutions in attendance. The high point of the conference was the ministerial declaration on the actions needed to tackle head-on, the issue of adapting African agriculture to climate change.

The threats posed by climate change to Agriculture is already manifesting in most African countries. To name a few: Tunisia has experienced increased temperatures and 15% drop in rainfall, Central African Republic has witnessed flooding affecting ten thousand families; a situation that hadn’t been experienced in 50 years according to the CAR Minister. Agricultural productivity in Togo has dropped significantly. The annual rains in Somalia currently does not support the crop cycle; Lesotho is battling with draught, delayed summer cropping and diminished surface water.

Speaking at the conference, the Nigeria Minister for Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono acknowledged the need for immediate actions to solve the threats from climate change, stating the need for interstate and inter-regional cooperation to confront the problem. He cited the example of Lake Chad which is experiencing reduced productivity as a result of climate change: “for example, the Lake Chad which is bordered by Nigeria, Chad and Cameroun and by proxy, other African countries within the region. We have to see how we can collaborate because this is affecting all the countries within the region. We need to be less territorial in our thinking, so that we do not continue to face this challenge in Africa”.

Alhaji Sabo Nanono further added: “we also need to think of how we manage the other resources that are available to us and maximize them. This will also require inter-regional cooperation between African countries and will enable us to greatly deal with the challenges of global warming. Finally, we also need to look at local solutions: like our existing laws, which we will need to review in the light of the challenges in order to have a common front in facing the challenges of climate change. This will prevent African countries from working at cross roads. I hope that as we move along, the emphasis on inter-regional cooperation will be given prominence”.

The ministerial declaration had a number of pronouncements. As framed by the declaration: “we encourage the Foundation to maintain and expand its country-level support, in such a way as to help formulate National Climate-Smart Agriculture Investments Plans. We also invite partner funding institutions to back this effort and to contribute to the financing of the implementation of these plans within the framework of national agricultural development strategies. In particular, through the strategic partnership with the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI), especially the advent of the on-going Pan African Climate Finance Access Program with the Green Climate Fund”.

The declaration also states: “We agree to reinforce agricultural research and innovation, and to support AAA-focused research for development, through our national agricultural-research systems and by involving the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). We also insist on the necessity to improve technology transfers to farmers to ensure that research activities respond to their needs and concerns in the face of climate-change challenges”.

Further to this: “we invite the AAA Foundation to promote and support technology transfers, knowledge sharing and capacity building through South-South and triangular cooperation”.

The declaration also encourages the AAA Foundation to pursue its advocacy efforts for the adaptation of African Agriculture in the upcoming ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP) and in the UNFCCC’s specialized bodies and committees.

The Initiative for the Adaptation of African Agriculture to climate change (AAA Initiative) aims to contribute to food security in Africa, to improve the living conditions of vulnerable farmers and to promote employment in rural areas by promoting adaptation practices to climate change, building the capacity of actors and channeling financial flows to the most vulnerable farmers.

To this end, the Initiative promotes the implementation of tangible projects on soil management, agricultural water management, and climate risk management. It is based on the instruments advocated by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change: transfer of technology, preparation of appropriate agricultural policies and strategies, establishment of bankable projects meeting the criteria of development partners and donors and promoting South-South cooperation. The AAA Initiative also contributes to meeting the broader challenges of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals set by the UN Member States.

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