The increasing implications of climate change on food security and agricultural activities keeps gaining, this is, even as activists continue to demand that African governments seek new opportunities towards combating the menace and promoting food sovereignty in Africa, Ruth Tene Natsa writes…..
Joy Bulus, a small holder rice farmer in Fadan kagoma, a big village in Jema’a local government area, of Kaduna state has expressed worry at the increasing effect of climate change without understanding its true implications.
Lamenting the increasing weather conditions in which the rains in Nigeria have been unceasing from January till October 2019, she laments that while the rains have been good for farmers, its unending impact could also lead to high losses for farmers such as her.
In her words “While we pray for good rains to ensure high crop yields, the rains this year have been endless. It has been unceasing and seems to have no end in sight. Normally by September we begin to witness the harmattan, but it is October ending and the rains continue to fall heavily”.
“Rains are always very good for us rice farmers, but right now it is beginning to look worrisome. The rains are so hard we can barely make it into the farms and at this rate, if (the rains) do not stop, it could end up becoming a loss rather than great gains for us” she said
This unfortunately remains the sad state of many farmers in Nigeria, who have little understanding of climate change, and yet will have to face the dire effects of the effect across their various crops and fields
Simple Encyclopedia Wikipedia, defines climate change as “any significant long-term change in the expected patterns of average weather of a region (or the whole Earth) over a significant period of time”.
It states that “climate change is about abnormal variations to the climate, and the effects of these variations on other parts of the Earth”.
This is even as Reports by the Alliance for Food sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) have revealed that “Climate crisis has hit Africa hardest, while alleging that the continent is the least contributor to its cause, (contributing less than 4% of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions)”.
Experts have blamed the increasing impact of climate change on various factors including emerging technologies which include Greenhouse Gas Removal, Ocean Fertilisation, Artificial upwelling, Carbon Capture and Storage, Marine Cloud Brightening, Cirrus Cloud Thinning and Weather modification among others
The experts further state that the impact of some of these emerging technologies include threats to food security, false solutions, use of gene drives as weapons, loss of indigenous and sovereign territories and ethics which will deny victims’ rights to claim damages
AFSA states that Governments have come up with solutions to the current crisis with many African countries opting to push for adaptation through increased industry-focused agriculture initiatives such as Climate Smart Agriculture which supports use of chemical inputs, fossil-fuel dependent mechanisation, use of GMOs and hybrid seeds with a focus on increasing production at all costs.
“This form of agriculture releases carbon stored in the soil, while increasing the burden of green-house gases in the atmosphere and polluting precious water resources. AFSA sees these and others as false solutions and hence brings to the table agroecology as a solution.
AFSA revealed that “Agroecology promotes regeneration, biodiversity, soil health and use of local knowledge and also works to minimise greenhouse gas emissions by keeping carbon in the soil”.
In its effort to promote the practice of agroecology, the Alliance proposed the ‘agroecology for Climate Action Campaign’ to emphasise and popularise the practice of agroecology as one of the most viable measures to adapt to and mitigate the climate crisis. AFSA appreciates the fact that communication is an integral part of any campaign and therefore would like to bring the media on board to popularise the climate change campaign.
The advocacy was taken a step further when the Organisation organized a training for African Journalists which held October 1-3, in Mityana, Uganda to promote the call for Agroecology.
In a presentation by GRAIN SUSAN NAKACWA, she defined Agroecology as a practice which is concerned with farming methods that are based on peasant’s knowledge, local inputs as well as nature’s own principles rather than external inputs and technologies that damage nature such as the green revolution model (La Via Campesina).
She said “The practice combines local farmers’ knowledge with the most recent scientific knowledge to create new technologies and practices that increase yields without negatively impacting the environment”.
The Activist further defined agroecology as a food system with people and farmers at its heart which combines modern science and innovation with nature and biodiversity.
At a field visit to an agroecology farm, managed by the Rural Community in Development (RUCID), the reality and benefits of agroecology was demonstrated to the journalists.
According to RUCID, Executive Director, Nyanzi Samuel, he listed the principles of agroecology to include food sovereignty, rewarding rural livelihoods, biodiversity, sustainable soil health and resilient food systems to climate change.
The Agroecologist described agroecology as the use of compost and use of local tools with minimal use of modern farming machineries aimed at value addition, which subscribes to the total use of solar, compost or hands to boost agriculture and markets as a whole bringing about remarkable improvements in farming,.
He listed farming systems under agroecology to include permaculture which is the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient., organic farming which is an organic food production based on a system of farming that mimics natural ecosystems that balances pest and beneficial organism populations and maintain and replenish fertility of the soil.
While the call for food sovereignty and the threat of overwhelming unproven emerging technologies continues to face Africa, there is no debating the fact that promoting nature remains the best form of assuring food security and sovereignty, therefore Governments across the continents should take a cue towards promoting and teaching agroecology across the continent.