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"We should look at climate change from a balanced position based on proven facts to avoid any misunderstanding"

CTA’s in-house expert Oluyede Ajayi

October 3, 2014

Climate change is not a far-off problem. It is happening now and is having very real consequences on people’s lives. Climate change is disrupting national economies, hurting people financially today and will do so even more tomorrow.  But there is a growing recognition that affordable, scalable solutions are available right now that will enable us all to leapfrog to cleaner, more resilient economies. We present CTA’s in-house expert in climate change and senior programme coordinator ARD policy, Dr. Oluyede Ajayi’s thoughts on the issue. 

’Climate change’ as a term is often misunderstood. How would you explain it? 

They are too many things put under the banner of climate change today. We should ensure that climate change does not lose its real meaning. We need to ensure that positions on climate change and programmes to address are based on solid and robust evidence with facts and figures. In its role as a knowledge broker, this is something that is hugely important for CTA. 

It is very important that we constantly ask ourselves: What do we know about climate change? What is it that we don’t know? How do we fill that gap? What are the emerging issues? Are there opportunities and proven practices, policies to address climate change that can be scaled up? We should look at climate change from a balanced position based on proven facts to avoid any misunderstanding.

What is the impact of climate change in ACP countries?

One of the greatest impacts of climate change on agriculture is perturbed food production as agricultural field operations becomes less predictable and farm planning more difficult. Given that many African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries are already experiencing some challenges with food security, agricultural production and nutrition, variability caused by climatic changes may create an additional burden and a higher negative impact on food security in those countries. This is because agriculture in most ACP countries is dependent on natural rainfall that becomes more erratic due to climate variability.

For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, less than 10% of the arable lands are irrigated. Too much rain or mid season drought can impact severely on food security.  This can lead to social conflict witnessed during the food riots in some countries resulting from the spikes in food prices in 2007-2008.  Recent studies indicate that if current scenario continues, almost 150 million additional people will go hungry by 2020, and 30% of the world’s food could be lost.

In addition, climate change and variability increase the risks of agricultural production. This could impose additional costs to agricultural credit as conventional finance becomes unwilling to lend to agriculture due to the perceived additional. This is a serious matter.

While climate change affects all ACP regions, the type and extent of the impact vary across the different regions. In the Pacific & Caribbean for example, most of countries are islands and the negative impacts of climate change will include problem of salinity and reduction in fish catch and aquaculture.  

How is CTA offering a new approach or perspective to help build agricultural resilience in ACP countries?

Given that farmers are right there in the field and their farm operations are affected by climate change, they need to be involved in any discussion on the topic. CTA is providing technical and financial support to farmers’ organizations to get engaged at different levels (national, regional and international) in multi-stakeholder policy processes that facilitate policies that are conducive to the adoption of sustainable and climate resilient agriculture. As the African proverb goes, “you cannot shave a man’s head in his absence”.

In addition, CTA is promoting farmer innovations in climate change and sustainable agriculture. Farmers have over the years been subjected to variability of climatic conditions and have been modifying their farm practices and experimenting with innovative methods that make them resilient to a variable and changing climatic and other conditions they face in order to survive. Such opportunity for co-creation of knowledge and learning climatic challenges is essential.

As climate change does not affect all the regions in the same manner, CTA is contributing to scaling up proven agricultural practices and other options that are appropriate to the different regions. The Centre is keen to work with partners to support the designing of programmes and solutions that are well targeted to the needs of the stakeholders in the regions. That why CTA is committed to help raise farmers organizations profile through its new project: “Policies and practices for increasing productivity of adaptation of agriculture to ACP countries”.

For more information on the project contact Oluyede Ajayi at:  

Few weeks ago, CTA joined the Global Climate-Smart Agriculture (CSA) Alliance and director Michael Hailu was present at the inaugural meeting in New York.

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