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Global warming is likely to cause a decline in the number of species of microbes that live in tropical soils which could threaten the biodiversity of rainforests and increase carbon emissions, according to new research. Microorganisms, which include bacteria and fungi, play a key role in the health of tropical forest ecosystems. They breakdown dead organic matter, either using the carbon it contains and transforming it or release it into the environment as CO2. About a third of the carbon stored in soils is held in tropical soils - and they support around two-thirds of the world’s plant biomass. Climate models suggest the tropics could warm by two to five degrees centigrade by the end of the century. To date, there has been little scientific research into the impact this level of warming could have on the tropical soil microbes that play a key role in plant health and in mediating carbon emissions into the environment. Scientists heat a rainforest to simulate global warming In a ground-breaking experiment on Barro Colorado Island in Panama, an international team of researchers led by the University of Leeds investigated what would happen if tropical soils were exposed to the levels of global warming that are being predicted by climate models. They rigged an underground heating system to warm five experimental plots in a lowland tropical forest which they compared with unheated control plots. Two years after the system was switched on, Dr Andrew Nottingham, a forest ecologist based at Leeds who led the study, said there were two major and unexpected findings. In a paper published in the journal Nature Microbiology, Dr Nottingham and his team report that the biodiversity - or number of species of microbes - in the heated plots declined even though long-standing theory suggests the diversity of bacteria would increase when soil temperature goes up. But the study found that many of the main bacterial and fungal groups in the unheated ‘natural’ plots could not be found in the heated plots, whilst they also identified bacteria and fungi in the heated plots that were not detected in the control plots. Dr Nottingham said: “This research is prompting us to think differently about the way a warmer climate may affect tropical soils, which support some of the world’s richest biodiversity and are a globally important store of carbon. “If the results that we have seen in just two years are representative of what will occur in global tropical soils, then there will be a major negative impact on the rich ecosystems they support. A major question is whether any of the microbes missing in the warmed plots played a key role in soil functioning, because we know that soil diversity is correlated with soil health. There are further likely implications for plants as tropical rainforests include associations and symbioses between microbes in the soil and the vegetation. “These links are highly specific - so changes in the make-up of the microbes in warming soils are likely to affect the associations,…
KIGALI, Rwanda (PAMACC News) - The 2022 Africa Agriculture Status Report (AASR22) has been launched alongside the Africa Geeen Revolution Forum (AGRF) in Rwanda, with a call for African governments to lead and coordinate domestic and external efforts to urgently and holistically tackle food insecurity in the continent. The Africa Agriculture Status Report is an annual publication by AGRA, focusing on emerging issues in Africa. Last year, the 2021 AASR Report focused on the resilience of Africa’s food systems, and why ensuring this resilience is critical. The 2022 report, which highlights the development in agricultural transformation in Africa and the way forward is themed “Accelerating African Food Systems Transformation”. It emphasises the urgent need for inclusive, equitable, sustainable and resilient growth in the agricultural sector, while acknowledging intensification of major drivers of recent food insecurity trends in Africa. It recognises the need to accelerate action. Fundamentally, the 2022 report calls for good leadership and coordination, a need to build capacity and capabilities to address food systems, but most importantly the mobilisation of financing from both the public and private sector. The publication focuses on practical pathways to meet these ends. The report highlights six megatrends shaping the development of agrifood systems in Africa that warrant greater attention by stakeholders. It examines the role of leadership in harnessing collective effort, shared responsibility, greater stakeholder engagement, as well as rallying political will, to achieve food systems transformation in Africa. Further, it presents the investment gap required to trigger and/or sustain Africa’s agro-food transformation reflecting on the requisite human, institutional and systemic capacities and capabilities that are required to achieve agro-food system transformation at scale. And, it recommends priorities for African national governments, development partners and the private sector. The report states that “Accelerating agro-food transformation in a sustainable and inclusive way is an extremely complex task. It requires an integrated approach, which draws heavily on the cooperation of system actors, with African governments driving the process that facilitates the required change,” adding that addressing the vulnerability of Africa’s food systems requires political will and leadership. AGRA’s President, Dr Agnes Kalibata noted that a combination of the after-effects of the pandemic and the Ukraine conflict have led to elevation of food prices thus exacerbating food insecurity in the continent. “The AASR22 reflects on key action areas required to tackle the most urgent and important areas in response to these challenges. There is urgent need to repurpose food policies to address the emerging challenges affecting conditions, outcomes and behaviour of our food systems, without compromising the economic, social and environmental fundamentals,” Dr Kalibata added. The AASR22 challenges African governments to assume a leadership role in food system transformation as a national security, poverty alleviation and rural development agenda that cuts across various institutions, while reducing reliance on donors who have been directing flows of international assistance. It calls for locally led integrated action that brings together key sectors of the economy that are central to food systems, including health, environment, agriculture and education, and…
KIGALI, Rwanda (PAMACC News) - Food and agriculture leaders from across Africa are gathered in Rwanda from September 06, to advance action for food systems transformation on the continent. The two-day forum themed Collaborative Leadership: Advancing African Food Systems, is organised by the Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture (CALA), an AGRA-led initiative, and will see over 200 of Africa’s leading and emerging agriculture leaders convene for a series of workshops, panel discussions and networking sessions designed to provoke collaborative action towards the most pressing food system issues facing the continent today. In attendance will be two cohorts of 160 participants from CALA’s Advanced Leadership Programme drawn from 8 countries - Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda. The programme supports food security champions and leaders to achieve progress in implementing national agricultural transformation and environmental sustainability interventions. The forum is the first in-person gathering of CALA’s participants in the Centre’s young history. The second cohort of 80 food systems leaders will be unveiled officially. During the event the delegates will issue a call to action for greater collaboration among sector leaders on advancing African food systems. Among the key speakers were H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn, AGRA Board Chair and former Prime Minister for Ethiopia, and Dr. Agnes Kalibata, President of AGRA. “Realising the collective expertise and energy of these distinguished leaders from AGRA’s Centre for African Leaders in Agriculture gathered here today, this is really our moment to seize to work together towards deeper integration of our food systems, and to take critical steps towards achieving zero hunger”, said H.E. Hailemariam Dessalegn. Selected from over 1,000 applicants, the 80 new CALA delegates represent the continent’s most dynamic leaders in agriculture, with 45% of them drawn from government agencies across the eight countries, 26% from the private sector and 29% from civil society. “These illustrious CALA cohorts of 160 leaders from eight countries have distinguished themselves in delivering on food systems transformation priorities across government, private sector and civil society. In the aftermath of COVID-19, we have a unique opportunity to re-imagine and build more resilient food systems. We look forward to the rest of this decade of action working with you all to meet our sector priorities with the eight harvests we now have left,” said Dr. Kalibata. Designed for rising stars and established executives from across Africa’s agriculture sector in government, the private sector and civil society, CALA’s Advanced Leadership Programme is the continent’s premier leadership programme tailored to support leaders to advance sustainable agriculture sector priorities. The highly competitive programme is a 16-month learning journey that emphasises collaborative and practical experience and is focused on advancing leaders’ professional skills as they contribute to delivery of flagship programmes on food systems transformation. An AGRA-led initiative, CALA is delivered in collaboration with implementing partners, including the African Management Institute (AMI), CALA’s lead implementation and learning partner, and USAID’s Policy LINK. Policy LINK has led the design and rollout of the leadership programme’s coaching component. “As a leader, being…
LIBREVILLE, Gabon ( PAMACC News) - Communities in Eastern Uganda woke up to devastating months of July and August. By mid August, at least 30 people had lost their lives due to flash floods, with about 6000 being displaced from their homes. “These communities in Uganda are at the frontline of the climate crises experiencing massive losses and damage as a result of climate triggered disasters,” said Philip Kilonzo, a climate activist based in Nairobi, noting that the region has never had any history of disasters of such a magnitude. And now, according to Africa’s civil society organisations meeting in Libreville, Gabon ahead of the Africa Climate Week that begin on August 29, plights of such communities must be heard and decisions to support them made by negotiators at the upcoming 27th round of negotiations on climate change (COP27) in Egypt. According to Dr Mithika Mwenda, the Executive Director for the Pan Africa Climate Justice Alliance (PACJA), the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and global community must create highly accessible climate financing for such communities in the frontline of the climate crisis. “There is also urgent need to advance for implementation of climate response measures that enable Africa address its climate challenges as a special needs and circumstances region,” said Dr Mwenda. This comes at the time the Horn of Africa region is facing its worst drought in more than 40 years despite the floods in Uganda. According to a new report released by the UN Office Coordinating Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), Kenya is among the countries in the region that are facing the most prolonged drought in recent history. “Across the Horn of Africa, at least 36.1 million people have now been affected by the drought which began in October 2020, including 24.1 million in Ethiopia, 7.8 million in Somalia and 4.2 million in Kenya,” reads part of the report. Ahead to the COP 27, the activists in Libreville are calling for establishment of a Loss and Damage Financing Facility, which resonates with the recent messaging of developing countries during the technical process in preparation for the Egypt climate summit in November. “Full operationalization of the Santiago Network on Loss and Damage at COP-27 is critical,” said Munir Akram, the Pakistan’s ambassador to the UN and the current Chair of the 134 member states that form the G-77 & China. The ‘Santiago Network on Loss and Damage’ is an initiative launched by the UNFCCC to connect vulnerable developing countries with providers of technical assistance, knowledge, resources they need to address climate risks comprehensively in the context of averting, minimizing and addressing loss and damage. Apart from perennial floods and droughts that have always devastated particularly Northern parts of Kenya and Uganda, lakes in Kenya’s Great Rift region have slowly been rising, thereby displacing thousands of households, causing substantial losses to the economy, land, and livelihoods. According to a study conducted by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Kenyatta University, the rising water levels of the…
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