By Kemantha Govender
Durban – Climate-smart agriculture offers a “triple win” for food security, adaptation, and mitigation, President Jacob Zuma and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said on Wednesday.
Both Zuma and Annan addressed a side event at COP17 for early action on climate-smart agriculture, an initiative driven by the African Union and New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD).
Climate-smart agriculture is being mooted for all of Africa to deal with climate change impacts that have been taking a toll on food production and security.
“Climate-smart agriculture seeks to enhance agricultural productivity by improving on resilience. Farmers should be at the centre of this transformation of the agriculture sector,” said Zuma.
Research shows that agriculture has a huge potential to cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gases through changes in agricultural technologies and management practices, particularly in developed countries.
Climate-smart agriculture includes proven practical techniques including mulching, intercropping, conservation agriculture, crop rotation, integrated crop-livestock management, agro-forestry, improved grazing and improved water management.
With nine billion people expected to inhabit the world by 2050, food production in Africa alone must be tripled, according to experts.
“Climate changes create risks and uncertainty with potentially serious downsides. Without strong adaptation measures, climate change could reduce food crop production by 10 to 20 percent by the 2050s, with more severe losses in Africa,” said Zuma.
Annan, chair of the Alliance for a Green Revolution, said Africa must grow its own food to meet its needs and also be able to export any surplus. He said this would require a collaborative effort from farmers, businesses, government and scientists.
“We need the creativity, leadership, resources, expertise and solidarity of every organisation and individual if we are to find solutions to this common challenge.
“We all have a part to play as well in ensuring our leaders do not shy away from the hard decisions necessary to ensure the world we pass on to future generations is a stable, secure and healthy one,” said Annan.
Zuma also took the opportunity to ask governments to consider promoting organic farming systems.
“Organic agriculture has a smaller footprint on the natural resource base and the health of agricultural workers than conventional agriculture… food security, poverty and climate change are closely linked and should not be considered separately,” said Zuma.
The World Bank offered strong support for the initiative and its managing director Sri Mulyani Indrawati said: “As climate change increases its impact on agriculture, we strongly support African leaders in their efforts to boost action that will help feed Africa and the world.
This is about working together… we need strong, continuous and collective action to boost agricultural production and productivity and to improve distribution networks, so people have food security.”
Zuma and Annan both said there had to be a link between climate change, food security and poverty.
“We need to engage on emerging issues including finance and technological support and approaches such as climate-smart agriculture that are geared towards addressing food security, adaptation and mitigation,” said Zuma.
He added that investments in agriculture development and incentives provided to local farmers must be complemented by macro-economic policies to ensure sustainability.
Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said the transformation of agriculture to feed a growing population in the face of a changing climate without hindering the natural resource base would assist in achieving food security goals and also help to mitigate the negative effects of climate change. – BuaNews