Africa expects deal on agriculture at COP 17

African negotiators at the upcoming COP 17 in Durban should push for a binding and responsible climate deal on agriculture. Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) CEO, Dr Lindiwe Sibanda, said African negotiators should make it their priority to secure a deal that will promote food security for climate change not to wreak havoc any further on the African continent. African political leadership should hold accountable those who will be negotiating on behalf of the continent. It is important for Africa to use COP 17 to push for a better global environment, improved agricultural productivity and land use. Read more here.
Nthambeleni Gabara


Agriculture investment, empowering women key to food security: FAO

Leaders from the international community met in Rome on Oct 17, 2011 to celebrate World Food Day, and called for more investment in agriculture and moves to empower women to ensure global food security. “Food prices – from crisis to stability” was this year’s World Food Day theme, after five consecutive years of unstable and often rising food prices, which currently stand close to record levels, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Greater investment said to be key to mitigating food price fluctuations and building poor people and nations’ resilience. Read more here.

Plan farms for climate change: Minister

Adapting agriculture in Africa to accommodate drastic climate changes will reap benefits for future food security and the poor, International Relations and Co-operation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane says, at an African ministerial meeting on climate change in Johannesburg. Climate change could affect agriculture through higher temperatures, greater crop water demand, more variable rainfall and extreme climate conditions like heat waves, floods and droughts. Sub-Saharan Africa was particularly vulnerable as agriculture contributed to 30 percent of the region’s GDP and employed up to 70 percent of its labour force. Political enthusiasm would need to be harnessed to tackle food security, climate change and disaster risk management holistically. Read more here.

Food security: Can Africa learn from Brazil?

Brazil has emerged as a good example of ‘how to do it’ when it comes to just about all sectors of agriculture, getting the best out of a few plantations and numerous small-scale producers to make the sector stable and guarantee food security. Brazil’s progress has been underpinned by the state agricultural-research company and pushed forward by genetically modified crops. However, many African countries are reluctant to take on GM foods, insisting that more research needs to be conducted on environmental and human health impact. Read more here.
Khinani Ontebetse

Transforming Africa’s agriculture with a pump

One way that can help Africa break out of its dependence on subsistence farming is through a simple water pump. In Tanzania, the agricultural sector accounts for nearly 80 percent of employment and 75 percent of rural household income, yet only 26.5 percent of GDP. Land for farming is readily available. However, effective tools for small-scale irrigation are not. The pumps enable small landholder farmers to switch from low value to high value crops and become less dependent on rain. Read more here.
Jonathan Kalan

Report: Climate change will have huge impact on Sahel

A report on the impact of climate change predicts that Mali’s agricultural output will suffer greatly, which could exacerbate problems such as unemployment and security problems. The new report, “Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics,” contains some grim news for the Sahel. The report predicts that global climate change will curb agricultural output in Mali more than any other country, except its West African neighbours Niger and Burkina Faso. Government policy can only do so much to mitigate the effects of climate change, and in some cases these policies carry significant downsides, even in ecological terms. Thus, governments have to make a tougher choices going forward. Read more here.
Alex Thurston

Small-scale agriculture should be seen as a business

Speaking in Cape Town, Dr. Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD), said impoverished rural people want opportunities to enter into economic activity. “What is gratifying for me is that a few years ago you would not hear people talking smallholder agriculture as a business. At the World Economic Forum on Africa, I heard over and over again where top government officials and the private sector have come to recognize that global food security cannot be achieved without the engagement of smallholder agriculture. I think that is the message: governments should invest in agriculture as a business and create the environment for smallholders to enter into economic activities that are profitable.” Read more here.
Staff Writer