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African ministers endorse agriculture for climate change

Ministers of agriculture from 30 African countries, including Nigeria, last week met to discuss actionable solutions to the threat posed by climate change to agriculture on the continent.

The meeting was the second annual ministerial conference of the Adapting African Agriculture (AAA) initiative, with ‘Food Security Facing Climate Change’ as a theme.

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The two-day conference, which was held at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Benguerir, Morocco, in partnership with the OCP Africa, also had representatives of international and regional funding organisations and institutions in attendance.

The high point of the conference was the ministerial declaration on the actions needed to tackle head on, the issue of adapting African agriculture for climate change.

Participants agreed that the threats posed by climate change to agriculture were already manifesting in most African countries.

Citing examples, they pointed out that Tunisia had experienced increased temperatures and 15 per cent drop in rainfall; Central African Republic (CAR) has witnessed flooding affecting 10,000 families, a situation that had not been experienced in 50 years, according to the CAR minister.

Similarly, agricultural productivity in Togo has dropped significantly; the annual rains in Somalia currently do not support the crop cycle, while Lesotho is battling with draught, delayed summer cropping and diminished surface water.

Speaking at the conference, Nigeria’s Minister of Agriculture, Alhaji Mohammed Sabo Nanono, acknowledged the need for immediate actions to solve the threats from climate change, and restating the need for interstate and inter-regional cooperation to confront the problem. He cited the example of Lake Chad, which is experiencing reduced productivity as a result of climate change: “for example, the Lake Chad, which is bordered by Nigeria, Chad and Cameroun and by proxy, other African countries within the region.

“We have to see how we can collaborate because this is affecting all the countries within the region. We need to be less territorial in our thinking so that we do not continue to face this challenge in Africa.

“We also need to think of how we manage the other resources available to us and maximise them. This will also require inter-regional cooperation among African countries and enable us deal with the challenges of global warming.

“Finally, we also need to look at local solutions, like our existing laws, which we will need to review in the light of the challenges in order to have a common front in facing the challenges of climate change.

“This will prevent African countries from working at crossroads. I hope that as we move along, the emphasis on inter-regional cooperation would be given prominence,” Alhaji Nanono said.

The ministerial declaration of the summit states: “We encourage the foundation to maintain and expand its country-level support in such a way as to help formulate national climate-smart agriculture investment plans.

“We also invite partner funding institutions to back this effort and contribute to the financing of the implementation of these plans within the framework of national agricultural development strategies, particularly through the strategic partnership with the Africa Adaptation Initiative, especially the advent of the ongoing Pan African Climate Finance Access Programme with the Green Climate Fund.

“We agree to reinforce agricultural research and innovation and support AAA-focused research for development through our national agricultural research systems, and by involving the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).

“We also insist on the necessity to improve technology transfers to farmers to ensure that research activities respond to their needs and concerns in the face of climate change challenges.

“We invite the AAA Foundation to promote and support technology transfers, knowledge sharing and capacity building through South-South and triangular cooperation.”

The declaration also encourages the AAA Foundation to pursue its advocacy efforts for the adaptation of African agriculture in the upcoming ‘Conference of the Parties’ (COP) and in the UNFCCC’s specialised bodies and committees.

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