Push for climate-smart agriculture in Africa

Microfinance Focus, December 9, 2011: President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, and former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said that climate-smart agriculture offers a “triple win” for food security, adaptation, and mitigation. 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.

Both Zuma and Annan addressed a side event at the 17th Conference of the Parties (COP17) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), 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.

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 organization 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.

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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.

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