New agricultural technologies, rather than money or
food aid, are the key to saving millions from starvation as the
African climate grows warmer, an expert commented on
Lindiwe Sibanda, head of the Pretoria-based Food Agriculture
and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network, argued that the
newfound political awareness that climate change and food
security are inextricably linked is long overdue.
Its not new that farmers have been seeing
their yields diminish, and its not a secret that our
governments knew. But for a long time we were focusing on
growing crops for export instead of growing our own food,
she told Emerging Markets.
In the past, money has been wasted on farm inputs that
yielded no results. Already, as a continent, we are not
able to address our food needs, and with the advent of climate
change it is only going to get worse.
We need to breed more drought-tolerant cereal
varieties, and we need to breed more rice varieties that are
We also need to look at storage. Conservation
agriculture is a must-do: we have to develop technologies that
enable farmers to conserve moisture in the soil.
The question is: do we have technologies on the shelf
that farmers can take up? Do we have African private sector
institutions that can make these technologies affordable? And
do African governments have the required policy
Africa will be hit hardest by climate change because of its
dependence on rainfall for agriculture. Arid regions such as
the Sahel are expected to experience longer periods of drought
in coming years, while coastal regions are more likely to be
battered by floods and tropical storms.
Climate change threatens to damage cereal crops, livestock
herds and farmlands in nearly half of all sub-Saharan African
countries. Even a 1° C rise in average temperature can
reduce cereal production by nearly 10%, experts say.
Meanwhile the AfDB has been asked to help administer funds,
due to be raised after the international climate change
conference in Copenhagen, to help poor countries adapt to the
impact of global warming.
Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, the African
Unions chief negotiator on climate change issues,
approached the AfDB after the conference of ten African heads
of state on the issue earlier this month in Addis Ababa.
Hela Cheikhrouhou, the AfDBs director of clean
energy and climate change, told Emerging Markets that
Zenawis request has triggered a flurry of activity
within the bank. [We] are now in the design and set-up phase of
the fund, she said.
Meanwhile, NGOs and small businesses have complained that
they were left at the margins of the climate change
The local banking network should receive incentives to
help small businesses to implement green practices. Most of the
time, these banks cannot assume such big risks on their
own, Eric Agnero, a business consultant and president of
Greencast Africa, an Ivorian environmental NGO, said.
He questioned the wisdom of a decision to grant 1 billion
CFA francs to the Ivorian agribusiness holding SIFCA to
redesign its energy system, under the clean development
mechanism of the Kyoto protocol, whilst small enterprises are
largely kept at bay.