imports, climate change; agriculture

Africa challenged to promote innovative tools to fight effects of climate change

African governments should promote innovative risk management tools and methods to protect root and tuber crop farmers from the effects of climate change, a United Nations (UN) food security agency has advised.

Addressing a workshop that discussed climatic risk management for African root and tuber crop farmers in Kigali, UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Rwanda representative Attaher Maiga said changing rainfall patterns, drought, flooding, and pests and disease outbreaks resulting from climate change directly and indirectly affect food security.

Maiga said climate changed-induced natural disasters have caused up to US$1.3 trillion in damages and affected more than 2.7 billion people globally over the past decade. The results include mass deprivation, especially of agriculture-based livelihoods.

“Crop production growth in Africa is projected to decline by 3.2% in the short term due to climate change. Root crops such as potatoes, cassava and yams are projected to be highly affected, leading to poor yields,” he said.

Several other experts said governments should facilitate farmer access to climatic information in order to enable them to manage the risk factors and threats to food security. The dissemination and timely use of information could help farmers cope with, and reduce the impacts of climate change.

Permanent Secretary in the Rwandan Ministry of Agriculture Jean Claude Kayisinga said most of the country’s smallholder farmers still lack basic knowledge about the impacts of climate change.

Among other mitigation measures, Rwandan farmer have been advised to plant drought-tolerant cassava varieties in specified agro-ecological zones to manage the risk of climate change. The meeting was attended by experts from Cameroon, Benin, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Uganda and Rwanda.

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