Friday, September 25, 2015

Climate Change and African Farming

Figures estimate that 200 million Africans are chronically malnourished and five million people each year die as a result of hunger.

To ensure Africa's farmers can feed future generations in the face of climate change and avert food shortages, malnutrition and migration which will undo decades of development more funding must be made available, a report has warned. Failure to act could jeopardise UN global development goals.

The Montpellier Panel, a group of experts from Europe and Africa, in their report ‘The Farms of Change: African Smallholders Responding to an Uncertain Climate Future’ recommend that international donors and governments took action in a range of priority areas, including:
1) bringing climate change's threat to food and nutrition security to the top of UN and national governments' agenda,
2) investing in sustainable farming systems to help smallholders adapt to and mitigate climate change,
3) investing in research and local capacities to understand the responses of different crops and livestock breeds to drought, floods and heat stress,
4) scale-up proven community-based adaptation projects.

Montpellier Panel chairman Prof Sir Gordon Conway observed: "Progress made in the last two decades to combat hunger and poverty in Africa will be irrelevant if action is not taken on climate change. African smallholders cannot escape poverty unless they are equipped to adapt to a changing climate - and this requires serious, large-scale investments.” he added.

The concerns echoed the findings of a report last year that warned that many small-scale farmers across the continent faced the threat of "failed seasons". The 2014 African Agriculture Status Report says the vital food producers face a risk of being overwhelmed by the pace and severity of climate change. It called for the adoption of "climate-smart agriculture" that will help make crops more resilient to future extreme weather events.

The Montpellier Panel warned that by the middle of this century, hunger and child malnutrition could increase by more than 20% as a result of changes to the climate, undoing the gains made by the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Africa director of the International Food Policy Research Institute, Dr Ousmane Badiane, said: "When given the right options and incentives, farmers can drive sustainable agricultural development that builds resilience to disasters and greenhouse gas emissions."

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