For many years, the EU has been at the forefront in the fight against climate change, taking an active role in international initiatives through the Conference of Parties (COPs) under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). Recently, the EU has provided financial support to the Southern Africa flagship project on climate change, a 1.5 million euros project being implemented by CTA and a consortium of national and regional partners in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
“Agriculture is very much affected by climate change, above all rain fed agriculture,” said Dr. Arno Schaefer, Head of Co-operation, EU Delegation to the Republic of South Africa, at the meeting held in Johannesburg, South Africa to review the project Scaling-up Climate Solutions for Cereal and Livestock smallholder Farmers in Southern Africa.
Agricultural production systems and the farmers need to adapt to new realities,” Schaefer said, noting that, “We need to help farmers to be more resilient and adapt to climate change which, unfortunately, is to a certain degree is inevitable in the future.”
Dr. Schaefer says while commitments in the recent COP 23 negotiations could have been higher to push for a cut in carbon emissions to put the world on a path to greener development, the message was clear that corrective action could not be postponed any longer. “Even if governments cannot commit firmly at the current stage, the risks we are facing today are clear and we still hope decision making and awareness raising in various countries will accelerate in the near future,” Dr. Schaefer said. “The project promoted by the CTA and its partners is proof that farmers can ensure food security and livelihoods in the era of climate change by adapting smart and sustainable approaches.”
The Paris Agreement established a clear long-term process for reducing global carbon emissions and agriculture can help absorb carbon in the ground. Dr. Schaefer mentions that the shift from fossil fuels for energy production to renewable energy should be accelerated to meet global goals of reducing carbon emissions while promoting more sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Dr. Oluyede Ajayi, Senior Programme Coordinator in CTA and who leads the project said that the southern Africa regional project seeks to encourage smallholder farmers to adopt climate smart agriculture (CSA) solutions.
Working through partnerships, the project seeks to improve and stabilize food security and income for 140,000 smallholder farmers in Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe under a changing climate. The two-year project is promoting access of smallholder farmers to a multi-layer bundle of solutions to enable them address the challenges they encounter in their livelihood. Climate solutions involve the use of stress-tolerant seeds, weather information service using ICT tools, innovative weather-based insurance schemes and, expanded livelihood options through livestock. Ajayi said that while there has been a great amount of information on the challenges and impacts of climate change, especially to smallholder agriculture, there is comparatively less information available on solutions to the challenges to ensure that farmers have access to the solutions that are currently available.
“We need to ask the questions on what are the specific solutions to making farmers resilient to the impacts of climate change and how to upscale the proven solutions among the farming communities, especially given the challenges that the traditional (face-to-face) agricultural extension systems face in some countries.”