Accelerating Transformation in Africa through Climate Smart Agriculture
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07 September 2016 Author :   Protus Nabongo
Climate Smart Village in Western Kenya

Over 230 million or one in five people is undernourished in Africa due to lack in sufficient or nutritious food.

This number could increase to 350 million by 2050 if appropriate adaptation measures are not taken to cope with the intensity of future climate change.

According to the World Bank report released at the ongoing Africa Green Revolution Forum (AGRF) conference at UN, Gigiri, a projected rise in extreme weather events and average temperatures of about 2 degree celsius by mid century could substantially reduce the land suitable for growing the main staple crops, and reduce crop yields by up to 20 per cent.

African agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate risks, but is also a source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

The report notes that climate change and food insecurity are the twin crises that may define Africa’s future.

Food production in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) needs to increase by 60 percent over the next 15 years to feed a growing population.

Feeding Africa nutritiously and sustainably will require a more sustainable and climate-smart food system. Without major investments in agriculture, the average African would have access to 21 per cent fewer calories and climate change would increase the number of malnourished children by 10 million.

The report notes that if unaddressed, climate change will erode Africa’s hard-won development achievements and jeopardise the prospects for further growth and poverty reduction.

Fortunately, African agriculture is well-positioned for transformational change. Throughout Africa, there are over 200 million hectares of uncultivated land that can be brought to productive use.

Africa uses only two percent of its renewable water sources. Africa’s food and beverage markets are expected to top $1 trillion in value by 2030. More than a dozen agribusiness investment funds have set their sights on Africa.

African agriculture is also energised by entrepreneurial youth and an engaged private sector that is taking note of its potential. Young Africans are making agriculture a viable business, creating opportunities for farmers, as well as themselves.

The report found out that while agriculture contributes to the climate problem, producing significant greenhouse gas emissions, it also has the potential to be part of the solution here in Africa.

Improved practices can help African countries increase productivity, while also enhancing the resilience of farming systems, and achieving lower emissions–the triple win of climate-smart agriculture.

The Africa Climate Business Plan (ACBP) was launched COP 21 in Paris to address Africa’s intricately linked climate and development agendas.

The plan calls for US$ 16 billion in funding to help African people and countries adapt to climate change and build up the continent’s resilience to climate shocks.The plan includes a focus on climate-smart agriculture and supports the vision for accelerated agricultural transformation of the Malabo Declaration.

The World Bank has been supporting  African governments in making climate-smart agriculture a priority.

As a major financier of sustainable agriculture projects across Africa, the World Bank is committed to supporting climate-smart agriculture (CSA) for ending poverty and boosting shared prosperity in the Africa region.

The Bank supports CSA in Africa by advocating for regional CSA initiatives, fostering adoption of CSA policies and financing national and regional investment programs to scale up implementation of CSA technologies.

In collaboration with partners, the World Bank is working towards achieving the following targets in Africa by 2026: Adoption of CSA by 25 million farmers, the establishment of CSA on three million hectares of farmland, the creation of improved pastoral systems in at least 15 countries and improved capacity to implement CSA policies in at least 20 countries.

The World Bank urges that for Africa build a more climate-smart agriculture and food system, African farmers need new technologies—including higher yielding, more resilient crops and livestock that can deliver abundant harvests in the face of a changing climate.

The farmers also need access to timely, cost-effective, and personally relevant information on improved agricultural practices, markets, prices, inputs, weather―and news of impending disasters.
Agro-weather forecasting and dissemination tools and market advisories can help farmers address the challenges of climate variability and change and enhance their resilience.

Farmers will require well designed, inclusive, and innovative knowledge management systems. The priorities are to strengthen farmers' knowledge of CSA practices, facilitate sharing the techniques, and provide the greatest support to local and indigenous knowledge systems.

Africa also needs sound policies and an enabling environment that encourages the adoption of climate-smart agriculture and achieving the above will require the committed efforts of smallholder farmers, governments, the private sector and science.

Scaling up climate-smart agriculture Africa is vital to end hunger and boost shared prosperity.

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