Agriculture and Food Security across Africa
Key Takeaways from the Roundtable
- Recognizing the strategic importance of agriculture for Africa’s development, in 2003, African heads of state adopted the Comprehensive African Agricul¬ture Development programmes (CAADP) as a framework to accelerate agricultural and rural development in Africa.
- It was mentioned several times during the discussion that agriculture needs to be kept high on the agenda in all discussions relating to climate change.
- There are many technologies and best practices that enhance agricultural productivity with potential for up-scaling. It was stressed that there are new ideas for the enhancement of agricultural productivity but that they should not override the existing and successful methods. This calls for training and empowerment of people at the grassroots level.
- There is also a need to establish appropriate disaster risk management capacity both at the national and regional levels. A good example that illustrates the importance of this is the current situation in the Horn of Africa. Information was made available before the drought, but action was not taken as the resources were not available. Acquiring resources is a major concern in Africa.
- It was also noted that finance does not have to be acquired exclusively from external sources. CAADP aims to get heads of states and their governments to invest at least 10 percent of national budgets in the agriculture sector. The private sector also has a role to play as Dr Sisulu explained, using a current project in Ethiopia as an example.
- The main characteristic of Africa’s agriculture is that it is subsistence, rain-fed, and based mainly on small landholdings. Dr Sisulu highlighted that in most African countries, women do most of the agricultural work, yet despite women’s contribution, their role in agricultural planning and national policy formulation is marginalized. Agricultural policy decisions are often planned and implemented without the participation of women. As a result most policies fail to target the priority areas of intervention that would optimize return of investment.
Agriculture is the main source of income and employment for the majority of Africans with millions of them directly depending on it for the sustenance of their livelihoods. However the bulk of African agriculture is traditional and rain fed and is highly vulnerable to Climate induced shocks such as extreme weather events. This is the case particularly in the dry lands of the continent which is home to over 250 million people. African Agriculture in the twenty-first century is facing significant challenges - on the one hand the need to increase production while adapting to climate change and ensuring long-term environmental sustainability. To meet these challenges African agriculture will require to be transformed and implement innovative technical, institutional and financial approaches.
Recognizing the strategic importance of agriculture for Africa’s development, in 2003, African Heads of State adopted the Comprehensive African Agricul¬ture Development program (CAADP) as a framework to accelerate agricultural and rural development in Africa. CAADP seeks greater economic growth through agriculture-led development, aiming to eliminate hunger, reduce poverty and enhance food security and nutrition. This will also reduce dependency on food imports and contribute to increased ex¬port earnings. In practice, CAADP is assisting countries towards fundamental reform of their whole agricultural sector, while adhering to the ‘Green’ principles of Sustainable Land and Water Management (SLWM) with a goal to invest at least 10 per cent of national budgets in the sector. CAADP is led by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development NEPAD.
Climate models predict that more intense and frequent extreme weather events will seriously impact Africa. Extreme climate events if not addressed will accelerate land degradation, soil erosion, deforestation, overgrazing, unsustainable utilization practices, and spreading of alien invasive species and loss of biodiversity. In addition extreme weather events could bring a surge of new crop pests and diseases. The net result would be greater variabili¬ty in yields from year-to-year with concomitant volatility in food prices – both at local and global scales. This is particularly threatening for countries in Africa that are already in food-deficit situations.
A failure of even a single rainy season will cause agricultural failure reducing food availability at household level as well as limiting rural employment opportunities, reducing export earnings and requiring large food imports. In recent years, the largest food crises in Africa that disrupted livelihoods and required large-scale external food aid have been attributed fully or partially to extreme weather events. The food crises of 1974, 1984/1985, 1992, 2002 and 2008 that affected the lives and livelihoods of millions of rural households have been mainly caused by droughts. The current food crisis that is unfolding in the Horn of Africa is largely attributed to drought. Climate Change has huge negative impacts on livestock-based systems. The pastoral systems that occupy the marginal agricultural lands are already facing frequent rainfall shortages causing lack of pasture and water. Furthermore there are increased heat stress, pests and diseases. The current situation in the Horn of Africa is a vivid example of what happens to pastoralist communities during droughts.
The challenge is what needs to happen for African agriculture, livestock and related land use, forest and water management to deliver on increased productivity, reduced emissions, increased sequestration, environmental sustainability, improved health, better livelihoods and food security.
African governments recognize that addressing the impacts of Climate Change is a development priority. Providing solutions to the challenges climate change poses will have to deal with the great diversity in agro-climatic zones, farming systems, socio-economic conditions and varying effects.
Key issues to be addressed during the roundtable discussion
- Implementing African Policies and Strategies: Accelerated implementation of CAADP as a framework to spearhead and accelerate agricultural and rural development in Africa. During the 13th AU Summit in July 2009, the African Heads of States through a declaration on the Agriculture-Climate Change sub-theme urged the African Union Commission and NEPAD develop an African agricultural-based climate change mitigation and adaptation framework. There is a need for countries and partners to accelerate the implementation of the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme (CAADP) by increasing financial support to country agricultural investment plans towards agriculture and food security interventions.
- Adopting Technologies and Best Practices to Combat Climate Change, Increase agricultural Productivity and Enhance Food Security: There are many technologies and best practices that enhance agricultural productivity with potential for upscaling. There is a need to identify and document such strategies and practices that contribute to enhanced adaptation to climate change. The role of indigenous knowledge is important to include in this. Local populations in the African regions have developed and implemented extensive mitigation and adaptation practices and strategies that have enabled them to reduce vulnerability to past climate variability and change.
- Improved disaster risk management: Extreme weather events (droughts and floods) result in agricultural failures causing acute food shortages and emergencies often forcing households to engage in unsustainable economic activities such as fire wood sale increasing deforestation; divest productive assets; stress sale of livestock; consume seeds; pull out children out of school; migrate looking for jobs often in less productive sectors. In some cases this could result in increased competition for access to water and agricultural land that could trigger conflicts; developmental gains achieved could be reversed; and household vulnerability to future risks will increase trapping them in perpetual poverty. There is a need to establish appropriate disaster risk management capacity both at the national and regional levels with appropriate financial mechanisms should be a pre-requisite in promoting sustainable development.
- Accessing Climate Change Financing for Agriculture: Combating climate change requires a combination of long-term and short term funds. Agricultural mitigation and adaptation activities with positive impacts on food security need to be funded. Given the Unique position of agriculture in enhancing synergy between adaptation and mitigation, what would be the most effective approaches of getting resources set aside for adaptation, other mitigation actions to complement investments in climate change. Coordinated action is a key to implementing climate smart agriculture and food security-related actions in the context of adaptation,
- The Gender Dimension: Understanding the nature of Africa’s. The main characteristic of Africa’s agriculture is that it is subsistence, rain fed, and based mainly on small land holdings. In most African countries, women do most of the agricultural work. Women in addition to working on agriculture, they also have the most important responsibility, that is, to look after the future generation – the children, the sick and the old. Paradoxically, despite women’s contribution in doing most of the agricultural work and managing the family food security, their role in agricultural planning and national policy formulation is marginalized. Their concerns are not seriously taken into consideration. Agricultural policy decisions are often planned and implemented without the participation of women and as a result most policies fail to target the priority areas of intervention that would optimize return of investment.
- Role of the Private-Public partnerships: in the Agriculture-Climate CVhange nexus, there remains a role for the private sector, the civil society organizations, media and the Government in sensitizing the core practitionjers, majority of who still consider Climate Change phenomenon as abstract. Efforts a re needed to stimulate grassroots engagements in the discussions and evidence-based policy evolution mechanisms.
What are the agricultural strategies that provide / create appropriate incentive mechanisms to increase productivity and enhance food security?
What is the role of smallholder farms, pastoral areas and other sectors (including the private sector) in climate change, food security and agriculture agenda?
Identify some of the most effective local coping strategies to climate change that have been (could be) documented to showcase the interrelationship between agriculture, food security and climate change.
What would the best way for existing technologies and best practices for upscale to enhance farm level resilience and climate agriculture.
How is Africa placed to generate the requisite quality data and information to support both science and local-based knowledge for decision making (including the development of stronger human capacity in climate change analysis and research) to promote climate agriculture?
What would be the most cost effective ways of enhancing agricultural research in particular technology development, transfer, diffusion and dissemination? What would be the barriers? How could the barriers so identified be addressed?
How can we bring together different sources of finance and financing architecture to promote climate smart agriculture?
What is the role of private sector resources in support to climate financing?
What investment and disbursement platforms should be put in place at the national and sub national level to enhance integrated approach in climate agriculture?
How can we strengthen the voice of the ‘Voiceless’ farmers whose plight is being discussed today in absentia?
- Moderator/Chair: Ms Angela Hansen, Partner and Director –Agriculture and Food Security Practice at Dalberg
- Panelists: email@example.com
- H.E. Mrs. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, African Union Commission
- Dr. Sheila Sisulu, Deputy Executive Director for Hunger Solutions in the Office of the Executive Director of the World Food Programme
- Dr. Josue Dione, Director, Food Security and Sustainable Development Division, UNECA
- Dr. Ramajita Tabo, Deputy Executive Director, FARA
Have your Say!
- Youth Discussion Forum: Share with us your innovative ideas, your experience and your projects. Tell your Story
- COP Forum: What do you think are the solutions to the changing environment?
- A blog by Mthuli Ncube, AfDB Chief Economist and Vice President: "AfDB: Championing Inclusive Growth Across Africa"