Africa’s climatic crisis is occurring so fast that farmers cannot handle the consequences. And while scaling up climate-smart agriculture (CSA) in Africa is quite crucial, it cannot happen without accessible financing.
These were some of the thoughts shared by experts at the last leg of the COP26 global climate talks in Glasgow, Scotland.
Speakers at a webinar, centred around scaling investment into climate-smart agriculture technologies in African agriculture, provided an insightful overview on how to best tackle CSA. The experts agreed that CSA was best to ensure effective and sustainable farming practices that would curb food insecurity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Farmers battle to keep up against climate change
The event kicked off with panellists examining lessons learned from piloting CSA investment plans: how could these plans be scaled up through effective policies, context-specific technologies and innovative financing? Could it be used for successful agricultural systems transformation?
According to Simeon Ehui, regional director for sustainable development for Africa at the World Bank, scaling up CSA in Africa is crucial as agriculture is a key economic driver. It employs up to 65% of the labour force. He added that the impacts of climate change had already started reducing yields and GDPs, while driving up adaptation costs.
Where agricultural and agriculture-driven land use contributes 24% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions, agricultural activities contribute to nearly half of the total emissions in Sub-Saharan Africa.
“We can’t eliminate poverty without a robust agriculture sector that addresses people’s basic needs, provides jobs and responds to the challenge of climate change,” Ehui said.
Stancilae Tapererwa, agricultural extension chief director in Zimbabwe, also participated in the panel discussion and spoke on behalf of Anxious Masuku, Zimbabwe’s minister of lands, agriculture, water and rural resettlement.
According to Tapawira the climatic crisis is occurring at a rate that is too rapid for farmers to handle. Although many farmers in the rest of Africa are yet to adopt sustainable farming practices, Zimbabwe has begun its own process, he said. Farmers are encouraged to concentrate their resources on smaller pieces of land in order to achieve maximum yield outputs.
“The country is embarking on a low-emissions strategy, with the goal of reducing national emissions by 40%, including in agriculture.”
Make financing access simpler
Speaking on finance was Andrew Jarvis, associate director-general of the Alliance of Diversity International and the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture.
Jarvis pointed out, “We have to make every single dollar count since financing is merely a drop in the ocean of adaptation needs.”
He also stressed that there was a need to make access to climate financing much simpler for countries. If financing is easily accessible, then it will enable Africa to adapt climate-smart agriculture solutions into their farming, he said.
The co-founder and director of Clarmondial, a private advisory firm, Tanja Havemann, was also present.
She said that, if there is a need to mobilise additional private funding in addition to development assistance, “we need to think through enabling conditions that will attract meaningful investments in this space.”
The director of agricultural research in Lesotho, Dr Lefu Lebesa, went on to say that there has to be a system in place to protect farmers migrating from subsistence to commercial agriculture from too many shocks. They, too, require funding and capacity building, she highlighted.
Tapawira went on to say that, rather than spending foreign money to purchase food, it is less expensive to equip farmers with inputs to boost food security.
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