Transforming Food Systems in Africa: Shaping the Green Future
COP26 Action in Glasgow
It is noteworthy that the Climate Change Summit of the United Nations, a.k.a. COP26 which took place in Glasgow between 31st October and 13th November 2021 was remarkable such that campaigners and civil society groups staged a walkout at the venue condemning the legitimacy and lack of ambition of the 12-day conference. They put forward a People’s Declaration, outlining 10 demands from global north countries paying their climate debt to global targets on adaptation and loss and damage. According to sources, it was about bringing heads of state and leaders together for action towards achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement and the UN
Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Now that the conference has come to an end, it is important to reflect on climate-related issues and what it means for smallholder farmers. As a matter of fact, sustainability is a consistent ingredient in all round table discussions. This is because, with recent activities occurring as a result of climate change; for instance, the recent overflooding episode in Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands, bushfire outbreaks in Australia, and water shortage especially in agriculture and pest invasion in low-income countries of Africa and other developing nations. The covid-19 pandemic has shown us how working in a coordinated and collaborative manner can help in actualising goals quickly and in a coordinated manner and this also applies to climate change mitigation in the world. As such this blog will look at the challenges that farmers especially smallholder faces as a result of climate change, what are the solutions, and the recommendations to move forward?
The world is changing fast. The way natural resources are depleting fast and the adverse effect it has not only on the planet but on humans has forced world leaders to come together and do something about it so that something should still be there for our children and future generation since it is obvious that we do not have planet B to run to in the event of the destruction of planet earth with the harmful practices of man. The climate summit held at Glasgow is one of such recent gatherings about the planet and how to protect it. Climate change is affecting not only low-income countries but is felt all over the world including Europe and America. The world is experiencing biodiversity loss, environmental degradation resulting in food insecurity like in Africa.
Climate impact in Africa can be mostly felt in the agri sector whereby 60% of the population is involved especially small size farmers either for personal consumption or for business and the majority are women. In Europe, farmers are having hard times growing 100% organic and the cost to is high due to water shortage, loss of soil biodiversity, constant flooding, and high temperature. As a result, both continents what to agree with these issues using the EU Green Deal and Africa Agenda 2063 roadmaps
Transforming the food system in Africa is getting more and more difficult every day with the challenges posed by climate change and it is the smallholder farmers that are feeling the impact more. What are the challenges that farmers are facing especially in the agriculture sector in relation to food system transformation as a result of climate change?
- The cost of doing sustainable farming is high in terms of techniques, technologies, thereby making some farmers to compromised. This is even much so with smallholder farmers.
- Low product due to soil degradation causes food insecurity especially in low-income countries
- Water shortage can result in poverty and food insecurity
- Delay of Africa’s socio-economic growth due to reducing export commodities caused by climate change.
In order to reverse the situation, drastic measures need to be taken. So, what are some of the measures that can be taken to address climate change for smallholder farmers?
Measures to addressing Climate Change in Food System Transformation
- Energy solutions: Africa has abundant renewable energy resources and since solar energy production has no direct emissions and does not require refueling, African nations can protect their people, environment, and lives. Wind energy can be likened to solar energy.
- Awareness about sustainability
- Incentives for farmers and companies intending to go sustainable will benefit the environment by helping them to maintain soil quality, erosion reduction, and water preservation. Every member of the food system can manage a sustainable lifestyle by remaining consistent within this criterion.
- Getting the youths involved in the upskills of going green thereby exhibiting innovative ideas, as well as uptake of new technologies
- Enabling inclusive policies: Everyone irrespective of their gender should be capable and willing to play roles, as well as volunteer their own opinion to their community, as well as develop the sense of belonging in leading ‘better lives.’
- Access to Finance
To be able to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, achieve economic growth as highlighted in the EU Green Deal framework, and combine with the agenda of Africa we want 2063, the following is recommended.
First is awareness creation among the population about what they are doing good and what needs improvement
Next, is collaborations and joint research on climate change themes like navel crop that requires less water to grow
More so, there should be policies encouraging the following:
- Increased usage of renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass) and combined heat and power installations;
- Improved energy efficiency in buildings, industry, household appliances;
- Reduction of CO2 emissions from new vehicles; and
- Some abatement measures in the manufacturing industry.
- Incentives to encourage farmers to engage in climate change practices.
Finally, compensation should be imposed on companies and industries that pollute the environment or create other negative externalities due to the production of goods and services.
On our part at EuroAfri Link, we use our UPTAKE Program services which are the different steps that producers and exporters need to take in order to export abroad and at the heart of it is training and the use of technologies to promote production and productivity.
There is no one answer to fighting climate change but together we can find our way together. Join us!
Authors: Dr Ikechi Agbugba, University Professor & Co-founder, AgriFood Networks (AFN), Rotterdam, The Netherlands https://www.linkedin.com/in/ikechi-agbugba-phd-29812813/ and Patience Chindong, EAL