Africa needs climate-smart agriculture: report

Inaction towards climate change will affect food production and increase malnutrition

By Moushumi Sharma
Published: Wednesday 03 September 2014

Fertile soil in Tanzania, Ghana and Malawi has increased the yield of food crops like maize and soybean (Source: c2.staticflickr)

The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) has warned that climate change will increase the risk of crop failures and has called for “climate-smart” agriculture. AGRA  is a dynamic partnership working across Africa to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.

According to the 2014 African Agriculture Status Report, farmers in the continent are already struggling to adapt to rising temperatures and erratic rains. Responding to Climate Change (RTCC), a news and analysis website, reports that temperatures in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to rise between 1.5°C and 2.5°C by 2050, bringing increased risk of both drought and flooding.
A report launched by AGRA during the African Green Revolution Forum, under way in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, till Thursday (see 'African leaders discuss improving food security of the continent'), states: “As climate change turns up the heat, the continent’s food security and its ability to generate economic growth that benefits poor Africans—most of whom are farmers—depends on our ability to adapt to more stressful conditions.” The report observes that smallholders urgently need money to invest in “climate-smart” agriculture. “Smallholder farmers are the mainstay of food production across sub-Saharan Africa,” RTCC quotes AGRA president Jane Karuku.

Cost of inaction

The AGRA report further warns that growing seasons and rainfall patterns will hit staple food crops, as a result of which the yield of beans in eastern and central Africa could decline by 25-80 per cent. Malnutrition, too, could rise by 40 per cent in the next 35 years, if timely action is not taken. This could affect 355 million people. The report suggests better soil and water management, new crop varieties and machines to increase productivity (see 'Smart agriculture: weapon against climate change impacts').

According to RTCC, AGRA claims that projects to make the soil more fertile in Tanzania, Ghana and Malawi repaid each dollar of investment by increasing the yield of maize, soybean and pigeon pea crops. “When farmers are able to employ climate-smart techniques, it makes a huge difference. Helping smallholders adapt to climate challenges today will prepare them for even more serious challenges in the future,” RTCC quotes David Sarfo Ameyaw, managing editor of the report and AGRA’s director for strategy monitoring and evaluation.

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