Experts attending the 7th African Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Abidjan have said that efforts to tackle climate change in Africa will only work effectively if they are geared towards eliminating challenges faced by smallholder farmers across the continent.
Examining the role of agencies, governments and the private sector in overcoming the adverse effects brought about by climate change Wednesday,in a symposium titled “The Business of Smallholder Farmers: Building Resilience and Mitigating and Adapting to Climate Change in African Agriculture”, Anthony Nyong, director of Climate Change and Green Growth at the African Development Bank (AfDB), told participants that unless governments and the private sector invest more to overcome climate change challenges to smallholder farmers, the continent risks failing to attain its food security targets.
“Climate change is a challenge to global development, but, specifically, it is a challenge to food production in Africa. There is a dire need to increase the capacity of smallholder farmers to overcome its adverse effects,” he said.
MrNyong “African farmers have demonstrated a limited capacity to adapt to modern information-gathering tools on climate change. They cannot overcome a challenge they do not understand, and that is why more governments need to increase their expenditure on developing meteorological stations required to deliver necessary information to the farmers.”
“The Bank has injected at least US $24 billion dollars into African agriculture; and that is not enough,” Nyong continued. “Every country needs to put money into it. Governments are supposed to be investing at least 10 percent of their budgets in agriculture to make food production more resilient to climate change – but few countries adhere to this.”
Andrew Mude, principle economist at the International Food Policy Research Institute, told participants that “agriculture should no longer be considered a social activity, but as a business. That is why the environment needs to be conducive for private investments in veterinary services, irrigation and fertilizers, as well as following pastoralist patterns and understand their needs.”
“Livestock and pastoral systems need to be studied professionally so that investors can get reason to inject money in increasing business-oriented farming that is resilient to climate change in the long term.”
Mark Cackler, manager of Food and Security at the World Bank, called on African nations to shift from exporting raw materials to adding value to their agriculture raw materials, reminding them that countries cannot develop by ignoring agriculture.
Climate change related problems and its impact on the continent’s agriculture sector is one of the key topics at the Forum, currently taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire from September 4 to September 8.
In 2008, the AfDB established the Climate Investment Funds (CIF)with an investment of US$8.3 billion focused on offering developing countries an urgently needed jump-start toward achieving low-carbon and climate-resilient development.
Under the Africa Climate Change Fund, the Bank also offers grants of US $250,000-US $ 1 million to scale-up access to climate finance and to support climate-resilient, low-carbon development in African countries.
Photo ©GEORGES GOBET / AFP