Appearing today on The Guardian’s Katine Chronicles blog is a post about Farming First’s call for better support for farmers on the frontline of climate change to world leaders meeting in Copenhagen next month.
In the post, David King, secretary general of the International Federation of Agricultural Producers (IFAP), a Farming First supporter organisation, is quoted:
If we don’t give farmers practical help to make their full contribution to fighting climate change, we will fail in Copenhagen. This is why Farming First wants world leaders to create a dedicated adaptation fund for agriculture to help farmers get the financial support they need to deal with the threats of climate change which they, more than any other group of people, are already struggling with.
The article goes on to discuss how agriculture has been largely ignored by the international community.
For more than two decades agriculture has been largely ignored by the international community, with health and education taking centre stage in discussions on development. But, as the affects of climate change become all too obvious, with erratic weather patterns destroying crops and livelihoods … farming is slowly being drawn back into the spotlight.
The post also points to Farming First’s six principles. Nora Ourabah Haddad, senior policy officer at the IFAP, is quoted as well:
Haddad believes farmers can adapt and mitigate climate change through sustainable practices and decrease greenhouse gas emissions from agriculture, such as through better water management and the production of renewable energies, such as biogas.
A Farming First video of Nora Ourabah Haddad also featured:
Can Africa transform itself from an agricultural basket case to the world’s bread basket?
This is the question which Peter Hazell tries to address in a recent article written for the Guardian newspaper.
Hazell discusses how the Green Revolution, which introduced modern agricultural practices and technologies to the developing world, helped Asia and South America to eradicate (for the most part) hunger from within their populations. Yet most of the African continent and its farmers have not benefitted from an equivalent revolution, and the productivity of their harvests has remained stagnant over the past half century while populations have been rapidly increasing and climate change is causing a less reliable supply of food.
In fact, local access for African farmers is still low. Historically, African governments have committed much less than their Asian counterparts in funding agriculture. Hazell estimates that Africa has spent around 5% or 6% of total government spending over the past 40 years while Asia has spent 15% or more over the same period. At the same time, foreign donors have, until recently, neglected agriculture as a development priority for their funding allocations.
There are indications that this is changing. African leaders have committed to increased funding to 10% of budgets and world leaders have earmarked money for investing in rural infrastructure support among other actions. As an example, the G8 just committed to $20 billion in funding at their July summit in Italy.
This momentum makes Hazell believe that
if supported, millions of poor farmers could lift themselves out of poverty and… it [Africa] could provide a solution to the global food shortages and spiraling food prices we are all facing.
In the wake of the recent G8 Agricultural Ministers meeting, Dr. Sibanda asked the fundamental question, “So what can Africans do to put food on the table and money in their pockets?” Her answer is to invest further in agriculture.
The article highlights the need for those in power to seek consensus, both in terms of how policy is drafted and programmes are implemented. Regional and pan-African programmes, such as the Comprehensive Africa Agricultural ADevelopment Programme (CAADP) — show promise for how coordinated efforts to share knowledge, enable markets, and build local access are already under way. Dr. Sibanda wrote:
It is time we realised that there can be no sustainable development without sustainable agriculture. For Africa to develop sustainable food polices, partnerships are key.
In recent years, [cassava] crops have been devastated by viruses leading to two years of severely reduced harvests…’The old cassava used to be affected by diseases. It used to rot quickly from disease and also it used to take a long time to fully mature.