ROME: Africa contributes only 4 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, while six of the 10 most affected countries by climate change are in Africa, warns a major agricultural research for development partnership, while stressing the urgent need to scale up climate-smart agriculture, improve forestry and transform the productivity of water use.
In an interview with International Press Service, Elwyn Grainger-Jones, executive director of the CGIAR System Organization, analyses the impact of this staggering fact, which is based on the AAA Initiative report (Initiative for the Adaptation of Africa Agriculture to Climate Change), as well as the needed solutions.
The increasing occurrence and severity of weather events such as droughts and floods, high heat and cold stress, will impact agriculture in Africa, threatening regional food systems, explained Grainger-Jones.
Smallholder farmers and those who primarily draw their incomes from agriculture value chains will be affected, which will in turn threaten the region’s food security, adds the executive director of this partnership comprising 15 independent, non-profit research organisations, home to over 8,000 scientists, researchers and technicians.
“Agriculture and our global food systems, however, contribute up to 29 percent of greenhouse gas emissions which needs to urgently be addressed,” Grainger-Jones said.
Grainger-Jones added CGIAR is leading a major effort to develop and scale up climate-smart agriculture, to improve forestry practices and governance, and to transform the productivity of water use.
“We’re also working to apply relevant new science to develop a new suite of tools and approaches to transform agricultural systems – ranging from policy advice on nutrition and market development, new tools to harness satellite based information and forecasting and new approaches to landscape-level planning,” he said.
According to Grainger-Jones, there is an urgent need to adapt agriculture — which feeds this chronically food insecure region and forms the backbone of its economy — to extreme weather conditions.
Asked what are the most urgent priorities now and in the medium- and long-term, he explains that climate risks to crops, livestock and fisheries are expected to increase in the coming decades, particularly in low-income countries where adaptive capacity is weaker.
“There is an urgent need to implement climate-smart solutions to help smallholder farmers adapt to a changing climate.”
Climate-smart agriculture, one of the key approaches, includes practices and technologies that increase productivity in a sustainable manner, support farmers’ adaptation to climate change and mitigate levels of greenhouse gas emissions, he explained.
“We have technologies and policy recommendations that can be implemented now, and our work through the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security is central to supporting smallholder farmers now and in the future,” Grainger-Jones said.
Asked what CGIAR recommended at the World Water Week 2017 (August 27 to September 1, 2017) in Stockholm, Grainger-Jones said CGIAR, through the International Center for Agriculture in the Dry Areas, a CGIAR Research Center, is developing technologies that are combatting drought and desertification.