Africa: Climate Finance for Farmers Key to Avert One Billion Hungry

Author: Fabíola Ortiz | Published on: November 21, 2016 

Marrakech — With climate change posing growing threats to smallholder farmers, experts working around the issues of agriculture and food security say it is more critical than ever to implement locally appropriate solutions to help them adapt to changing rainfall patterns.

Most countries consider agriculture a priority when it comes to their plans to limit the rise of global temperatures to less than 2 degrees C. In line with the Paris Climate Change Agreement, 95 percent of all countries included agriculture in their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

“We need to find solutions that allow people to live better, increase their income, promote decent jobs and be resilient.” — Martial Bernoux of FAO

“The climate is changing. We don’t have rains that we used to have in the past. In the last decade, we had two consecutive years of intense drought and we lost all the production. The animals all died because they had no water,” Ahmed Khiat, 68, a small farmer in the Moroccan community of Souaka, told IPS.


Re-framing Food and Agriculture: From Degeneration to Regeneration

This event, moderated by Alexis Baden-Mayer, Organic Consumers Association, US, addressed the use of sustainable agricultural practices and landscape restoration as tools to address climate change, and contribute to negative carbon emissions.


10 Million Hectares a Year in Need of Restoration Along the Great Green Wall

A groundbreaking map of restoration opportunities along Africa’s Great Green Wall has been launched at the UN climate change conference, based on collection and analysis of crucial land-use information to boost action in Africa’s drylands to increase the resilience of people and landscapes to climate change.

“The Great Green Wall initiative is Africa’s flagship programme to combat the effects of climate change and desertification,” said Eduardo Mansur, Director of FAO’s Land and Water Division, while presenting the new map at the COP22 in Marrakech.

“Early results of the initiative’s actions show that degraded lands can be restored, but these achievements pale in comparison with what is needed,” he added during a high-level event at the African Union Pavilion entitled: “Resilient Landscapes in Africa’s Drylands: Seizing Opportunities and Deepening Commitments”.

Mansur hailed the new assessment tool used to produce the map as a vital instrument providing critical information to understand the true dimension of restoration needs in the vast expanses of drylands across North Africa, Sahel and the Horn.

Drawing on data collected on trees, forests and land use in the context of the Global Drylands Assessment conducted by FAO and partners in 2015-2016, it is estimated that 166 million hectares of the Great Green Wall area offer opportunities for restoration projects.

The Great Green Wall’s core area crosses arid and semi-arid zones on the North and south sides of the Sahara. Its core area covers 780 million hectares and it is home to 232 million people. To halt and reverse land degradation, around 10 million hectares will need to be restored each year, according to the assessment. This will be major a contribution to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.


Protecting and Developing African Agriculture in the Face of Climate Change

The United Nations 2016 climate change conference (COP 22), meeting this week—through Nov. 18—in Marrakech, Morocco, presents an historic opportunity to refocus the global community’s attention on the need to help developing nations adapt to climate change. In no area could this be more pressing than Africa, where protecting food security and ending hunger is an urgent necessity.

During the COP21 last year in Paris, the world’s developed nations reaffirmed their commitment to provide at least $100 billion per year, beginning in 2020, to help developing nations combat climate change.

In the past, most funds have been used on mitigation projects—those intended to curtail greenhouse gas emissions. But there is a growing consensus that work focused on adapting to climate change is of equal importance and more funding needs to be devoted to it.

This is a step in the right direction. With 28 African countries expected to more than double in population by 2050, and 10 African countries—Angola, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, Mali, Niger, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia—expected to grow “by at least a factor of five” by 2100, according to the U. N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Africa will be hard pressed to feed itself as temperature increases drive farm production down.

While increases in temperature and carbon dioxide “can increase some crop yields in some places,” experts at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency have noted, Africa isn’t among them.

In fact, the opposite is true: The scientific consensus is that a temperature increase of 2°Celsius would result in an average reduction of 15% to 20% in agricultural yields on the continent.

The Center for Global Development’s 2011 report, “Quantifying Vulnerability to Climate Change Implications for Adaptation Assistance,” forecasts median agricultural productivity losses due to climate change ranging from 18% in North Africa to 19.8% in Central Africa through 2050.

The weak output in Africa, reinforced by a spike in temperatures and exacerbated by extreme climate events, could create a vicious loop of food insecurity, impoverishment, mass migration and, finally, armed conflict. Climate-related migration and conflict already are a reality on the continent, and more often than not they are related to agriculture and food.


Agriculture Gets Attention at COP22 With AAA Initiative

For the first time in the 22 years of  Conference of Parties (COP) session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), agriculture is being  given attention during climate discussions at the ongoing  COP22 conference in Marrakech, Morocco.

This will be made possible by the Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) to Climate Change initiative adopted in September this year by a coalition of 27 African countries who gave their backing and commitment to placing this initiative at the heart of COP22 negotiations.

Pitched as a major challenge for the COP22, agriculture is for the first time in the history of the COP brought to the forefront of climate discussions.


Agriculture and Food Security at Heart of Climate Change Action

The world must rapidly move to scale up actions and ambitions on climate change FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva told delegates at the United Nations Climate Change conference (COP22) in Morocco today.

Speaking at the high-level action day on agriculture and food security, Graziano da Silva noted that climate change impacts on agriculture – including crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries, land and water – are already undermining global efforts to assure food security and nutrition.

And the rural poor are the most affected.

With over 90 percent of countries referring to the important role of agriculture in their national plans to adapt to and mitigate climate change, Graziano da Silva stressed that

“it is time to invest in sustainable and climate-resilient agriculture as a fundamental part of the climate solution.”

Last year’s conference in Paris led to the world’s first legally binding global climate deal. The current summit in Marrakech, Morocco is geared to implementation of the pledges all signatory countries made. Echoing the prevalent spirit at the COP, the Paris Agreement is irreversible and inaction would be a disaster for the world.


African Nations Have the Will to Adapt Agriculture to Climate Change

Ask an African farmer how climate change is affecting the community, and the response will be unequivocal. “It cut off my means of survival,” 66 year old Zimbabwean farmer Amon Makonese told us just last month, referring to the El Niño induced drought which struck last year. “It was one of the worst droughts we have ever seen,” he added. “I planted three hectares of maize, but it all wilted”.

This story of failed harvest, hunger and hopelessness as temperatures rise is common across the continent. In fact, it is estimated that 65 percent of Africa’s population is affected by climate change. The need for agriculture, which feeds the chronically food insecure region and forms the backbone of its economy, to adapt to these extreme weather events is becoming urgent.

Yet disappointingly, here at COP22 in Marrakech, dubbed both “The African COP” and “The COP of Action,” talks to include agriculture in the climate change negotiations have once again collapsed. Disputes on how to integrate adaptation and mitigation efforts have led to any further discussions being postponed until June 2017 at the next meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) in Bonn.

Lack of progress at a global level makes regional action all the more critical. That is why the Moroccan government is championing the adaptation of African agriculture (AAA), through the launch of the ambitious AAA initiative.

At an event held in Marrakech, scientists and policymakers from all over Africa came together to determine an action plan for implementing this initiative, based on a rich body of evidence generated by the global research network CGIAR and its many partners. Taken together with the clear desire for action by African countries that prioritised agriculture in their national climate plans, there is significant potential to transform food and farming under climate change.


Zimbabwe: Climate Change Changes Face of Urban Agriculture

Rain is something that Zimbabweans very much look forward to. For years, many have looked up to their rain-fed agricultural projects to bring them food relief in the face of gnawing hunger that has resulted from the country’s economic collapse. The unpredictable pattern that now characterises the rainy seasons, however, has lately been rendering people’s effort useless.

Urban agriculture is part of Zimbabwe’s urban landscape and in Harare; frantic efforts by the city council to put an end to it came to naught — to the extent of the authorities seemingly throwing in the towel. It would seem they finally realised how unreasonable their push was to destroy an activity that brought food relief for many food-insecure urban households, most of who have been left to scrap for a living after their breadwinners lost jobs following either company closures or retrenchments.

Today, however, the council authorities do not pose as much a threat to urban agriculture as does the no-longer-reliable rainfall.

While traditionally, by mid-November the maize crop would be at knee-height, with people at that point simply worrying about the insistent weeds and getting money to purchase fertiliser, today’s mid-November paints a very different picture. Going around most high-density suburbs in Harare on Tuesday afternoon, this writer witnessed people, mostly the elderly, clearing the land and readying it for planting in the sweltering heat. Other fields, however, had already been cleared and people now only await the proper onset of the rainy season so they can plant.


Organic Agriculture Can Help Address Climate Change, Feed the World

The role organic agriculture can play in fighting climate change effects and in boosting food security was the main theme of a debate held in the COP22 Green Zone by the federation of Moroccan organic agriculture professionals (known by its French acronym FIMABIO.)

Speaking on this occasion, Andre Leu, President of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM), underscored that organic agriculture can reverse climate change.

He highlighted the global momentum towards adopting organic agriculture to counter climate change, notably through the “4 for 1000” initiative, which aims to increase the amount of organic matter in soil by 4 per thousand (0.4%) each year, which would be enough to compensate for all global greenhouse gases emitted due to human behavior.

Organic agriculture practices are conducive to the global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions before the point of no return, he said.


Moroccan Vault Protects Seeds from Climate Change and War

Should a doomsday agricultural crisis hit the world’s driest environments, scientists and farmers will turn to an up-and-coming research center and seed bank in Morocco to restock their harvests.

Tucked away in the university hub of Irfane in Rabat, the International Center for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, or ICARDA, hosts the largest collection of seeds in North Africa.

“If for any reason, a particular community lost all their resources, we are capable of providing them with the seeds for restoration and rehabilitation,” says Ahmed Amri, head of ICARDA’s Genetic Resources Unit.

The crucial role of seed banks in protecting biodiversity is receiving increasing attention because of climate change, which threatens to wipe out crops as dry areas of the world get even hotter and drier. The impact on African agriculture is among the topics being discussed at U.N. climate talks taking place through next week in Morocco.