Can Africa Feed her Children?

By James Ratemo in Nairobi  (www.ictcradle.com)

Africa is in trouble. She cannot feed herself leave alone her children. The climate change has played a fatal blow on her efforts to produce more food in line with her growing population. she is also in trouble choosing among the many ‘solutions’ advanced by her ‘far away’ neigbgours. It is a continent at a cross roads.

Paradigm shift

Experts say Africa must embrace a paradigm shift in her farming and weather forecasting following the devastating climate change being experienced globally to remain self-sufficient in food and water.

Statistics from World Food Organisation (FAO) show that 1.5 billion people are directly affected by degraded land and soil erosion, a situation worsened by the ongoing climate change.

“Over half of the world’s grasslands are degraded and 70 per cent of global freshwater withdrawal is attributable to irrigated agriculture. Demand for water for agriculture has led to serious depletion of surface water resources.

Experts at the ongoing first meteorological meeting in Africa, warrned that reliance on rain-fed agriculture is no longer sustainable due to the changing climate that has disrupted weather patterns.

They also called for cautious adoption of genetically modified foods and modern methods of farming and a re-look at indigenous crops which are more climate resilient rich nutritionally.

Enegy-intensive

National Coordinator, Eustace Kiarii Gacanja, Kenya Organic Agriculture Network (KOAN) said chemical- and energy-intensive industrial and toxic agriculture is unsustainable. ‘Yields are not the only measure of agricultural success – Nutrition, diversity and monocultures must be re-considered in favour of diverse agro-ecosystems.

Health-nutrition-agriculture

Agriculture policies should recognize the complex links between health, nutrition and agriculture,” said Gacanja. Addressing journalists during the ongoing meteorological meeting in Nairobi, she said small farms provide over 90 percent of Africa’s agricultural production and there is an urgent need for ecologically, economically and socially sustainable forms of farming.

“Small holder farmers are key actors for regional food security, small farms are more productive, resource conserving, they represent a sanctuary of agro-biodiversity and are more resilient to climate change,” she argued.

She called for the use of of locally-adapted seeds and breeds and participatory agricultural research that involves smallholders in improving the crops they grow “We need training that spreads knowledge through ‘farmer-to-farmer’ methods and collective approaches to solving farming and natural resource problems, soil fertility, pest and disease control while reducing reliance on external ‘inputs’.”

Climate change experts have already warned that Africa may not feed it self unless it adopts new agricultural methods and technologies in line with climate change, which is currently a global concern. [More…]

Natural disasters

“Climate Change is resulting in an increase in the number and intensity of extreme meteorological phenomena and in a higher risk of natural disasters,” said Deputy Secretary-General of World Meteorological organisation (WMO), Jeremiah Lengoasa.

Lengoasa said the African continent is especially affected by changes in the climate with the number and magnitude of natural hazards are increasing.

African ministers in charge of meteorology are in a one-week long meeting in Nairobi to devise strategies of enhancing agricultural production in the wake of devastating climate.

Poor forecasting

At a glance -Kenya suffers poor weather change tracking and is likely to suffer more natural disasters, unless there are timely interventions. – Climate change related droughts, floods and landslides have have hit Kenya with the most recent floods in March this year..

-Experts say early warning systems can cushion people from the impact of natural hazards -The World Meteorological Organisation wants Africa to improve her weather observation networks and hydrological services. -This is the first Conference of Ministers Responsible for Meteorology in Africa and is held courtesy of the Government of Kenya.

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