In a keen consideration of the huge leaps in the world's population, particularly on the African continent, and the decreasing yields in agriculture due to the impact of climate change, African ministers of agriculture and a number of international institutions endorsed an urgent and critical 'Declaration' to "tackle head-on the issue of adapting our agriculture to climate change."
This is equally in view of the disturbing estimates that food sources actually need to grow by a minimum of two-folds in order to feed the 9 billion people projected to be on earth by 2050, with Africa, no doubt, accounting for a significant chunk of this anticipated demography.
The Declaration was made Tuesday at the 2nd Ministerial Conference of the Adaptation of African Agriculture Initiative (AAA) held at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University, in Benguerir, the Kingdom of Morocco.
The event, with the theme "Food Security Facing Climate Change" and convened at the instance of the Adaptation of African Agriculture (AAA) Initiative, by the AAA Foundation, drew in over 30 ministers from African countries, including Nigeria.
These ministers are regarded as key stakeholders in mobilising national action plans targeted at solutions to the different challenges of climate change across the continent, principally on delivering climate smart agricultural interventions.
At the event, having in attendance other African countries such as Egypt, Rwanda, Cote d'Ivoire, Lesotho, Tanzania, Togo, Gambia, Eswatini, Niger, DRC Congo, Mali, Senegal, Chad, Guinea, Zambia, etc., the Nigerian Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Sabo Nanono, made a passionate case for interregional cooperation and the priming of local solutions towards pushing back the effects of climate change on African agriculture.
The conference, supported by the continental agricultural development champion, OCP Africa, equally had in attendance participation at its sessions, high-level actors from international research institutions, the academia, funding organisations/the donor community, and multilateral agencies. These included the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), African Development Bank (AfDB), the World Bank, the Green Climate Fund, among others.
Central to the Benguerir Declaration was the deeply unsettling realisation of a looming food insecurity on the continent due to the impacts of climate change, which the continent's agricultural practice and production needs to quickly adapt to in order to forestall a deleterious situation that could deepen Africa's numerous challenges. Importantly, and as emphasised by the African ministers of agriculture, while science has already unveiled the nature of the threats of climate change, accessing the funding required to adapt the continent's agricultural practice and productions into a more resilient form is at the heart of the advocacy involved in the Declaration.
As framed by this ministerial Declaration, "We encourage the (AAA) Foundation to maintain and expand its country-level support in such a way as to help formulate National Climate-Smart Agriculture Investment Plans. We also urge partner funding institutions to back this effort and to contribute to the financing of the implementation of these plans within the framework of national agricultural development strategies. In particular through the strategic partnership with the Africa Adaptation Initiative (AAI), especially the advent of the ongoing Panafrican Climate Finance Access Program with the Green Climate Fund."
Also, the Declaration states that, "We agree to reinforce agricultural research and innovation, and to support AAA-focused research for development, through our national agricultural research systems and by involving the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research (CGIAR). We also insist on the necessity to improve technology transfers to farmer to ensure that research activities respond to their needs and concerns in the face of climate change challenges."
The brutal reality of the climate situation as it relates to Africa is that while the continent is responsible for only four per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, it experiences a highly disproportionate share of the effects, with 6 out of the 10 countries most impacted by climate change being located in Africa.
Despite this, the continent attracts only five per cent of the global climate change funds, with a mere four per cent of this going to agriculture and 20 per cent to adaptation projects. As such, if adaptation is not quickly put at the centre of the climate agenda, Africa, which holds about 65 per cent of the world's arable, farming lands, would see a decrease of about 20 per cent of its agricultural yields in the near future.
With global temperature rises at about 1.5 degrees, as indicated in a recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report, a boiling earth is making agriculture practices become more vulnerable to droughts, floods, huge soil erosion and nutrient-depletion, in a continent in which over 80 per cent of food production depends on smallholder farmers; and one in which over 70 per cent of the population depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, while also contributing about 35 per cent of the GDP of the continent's countries. This situation signposts an imminent food crisis and insecurity, and the threats of deepening poverty in Africa.
It was a keen awareness of these vulnerabilities that led to the formation of the AAA Initiative on the sidelines of COP 22 in Marrakech, Morocco in 2016, as a vehicle for reducing the vulnerability of Africa and its agriculture to climate change. Also, to put the need for agricultural adaptation at the centre of global climate change funding, even while much of donor funding tends to lean towards supporting mitigation - rather than the needed adaptation - measures. The AAA Initiative realises that adaptation funding for African agriculture is how it can improve its performance, become resource resilient and withstand the deleterious impacts of the climate, towards greater food security.
According to its statements of intent, the AAA initiative's objectives are two-folds, as, first, it seeks to "place the Adaptation of African Agriculture at the heart of climate debates and negotiations, and to attract a substantial share of climate funds. As for the solutions, it also aims to contribute to the roll-out of specific agricultural projects." Also, it seeks to foster the implementation of solutions, including, "specific projects to improve soil management, agricultural water control, climate risk management and capacity building and funding solutions", particularly within the framework of the Global Climate Action Agenda, as aligned to instruments called for by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
Importantly, the AAA Initiative seeks to partner and collaborate with institutions driven by a similar purpose, such as the Congo and Sahel Commissions etc., to form a robust network and alliance that would push for the greater funding of African agricultural adaptation to climate change.
Part of the advocacy involved in the Benguerir Declaration evolves from the condition that while the scientific consideration of the issue urges the need for quick action, there has not only been the inadequacy of funding from countries of the rich global North, which had made commitments over the years to help rollback the impacts of climate change, but there have also been the politics and complexity of accessing the available funds.
Hence the Declaration became a necessity in making a more sustained push for placing African climate change adaptation as key to the agenda of the next major Conference of Parties to the Paris Climate Agreement.