As the call for food sovereignty gains momentum with the alarming threat of population increase challenging food security across Africa, stakeholders and advocates of food sovereignty are calling on African leaders to include Agroecology in countries’ National Climate Change Adaptation Plans. RUTH TENE NATSA writes
Climate change defined 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 and food availability are two major global challenges calling for drastic actions in the world today. It is worthy of note that many nations including Nigeria have developed adaptation and mitigation plans to curtail the impacts of climate change. This plan of action, titled ‘National Adaptation Strategy and Plan of Action on Climate Change for Nigeria (NASPA-CCN)’ has laid down strategies and action points on adaptation and mitigation on different thematic areas including agriculture. Knowing the effectiveness and sustainability of Agroecology, the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) – an umbrella network of networks and Civil Society Organisations, plans to launch a continent – wide campaign through its members and networks, for the inclusion of Agroecology in countries’ National Climate Change Adaptation Plans.
The campaign tagged Agroecology for Climate Action (AE4CA) is scheduled to be launched in February 2020. AFSA member organisations and networks were tasked to hold a stakeholders’ meeting to review each country’s climate change National Adaptation Plan.
At the meeting organised by Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF) in collaboration with AFSA, the stakeholders for Climate Action in their resolutions at the interactive session during which the provisions on agriculture, forest and biodiversity sectors in the NASPA-CCN document were discussed agreed that the overall agricultural strategy should include the adoption of agroecological practices which are in line with nature for both crops and livestock.
This they said would include the diversification of livestock, improvement of range management and the increase of cultivation techniques and breeding programs that do not depend on chemicals, pesticides or genetic modifications but, adopt better soil management practices; and provide early warning/meteorological forecasts and related information and focus on improved agroecological resource management and enhance implementation of these strategies by building community’s capacity for resilience.
The stakeholders emphasised the need to project and adopt agroecology as a viable solution to the impacts of climate change on agriculture, forestry and biodiversity because, as they said, agroecology draws on local and traditional knowledge to ensure agricultural production is environmentally sound, culturally sensitive, socially just and economically viable.
It was also said that agroecology embodies traditional and local knowledge about soil, water, seed, and crop management as technical knowledge that should be enhanced rather than discarded. They added that Civil Society (CSOs) and communities should intensify efforts in advocacy and campaigns to ensure achievement of stated goals and act as watchdogs for the implementation of the policies.
On the whole, stakeholders emphasised that the action plan should be such that it promotes agroecological practices with the aim of conserving biodiversity and that community needs should be integrated in development agenda, including through the promotion of alternative livelihoods.
In her presentation, AFSA coordinator Food Sovereignty Program Friends of the Earth Nigeria/Africa and Lawyer Mariann Bassey-Orovwuje said, “agroecology is vast, diverse and multi-dimensional and works in harmony with nature, using cultivation techniques and breeding programmes that do not rely on chemical fertilisers, pesticides, or artificial genetic modifications.
She said it builds on traditional agricultural practices using research, technology and existing indigenous knowledge, while at the same time ensuring that farmers are in control of all aspects of food production. Using ecological agriculture, farmers produce abundant, healthy food sustainably. The Activist maintained that agroecology represents not only the best alternative for a sustainable world and food systems, but also human values that share a vision of a world that respects and works with the identity of cultures in the planet.
“Agroecology is a complex system that includes not only natural and exact sciences but also human intervention and also seeks the improvement of existing food systems towards sustainable systems,” she said.
“Agroecology is based on a holistic approach and system-thinking. It has technical, social, economic, cultural, spiritual and political dimensions. It is grounded in the human rights framework and therefore use human rights lens, including the right to adequate food and nutrition, the rights of farmers, the rights of peasants and agricultural workers, the rights of women, the rights of indigenous peoples – including their right to self-determination, and the rights of lcal communities over their territories, lands, waters, ecosystems and genetic resources.
“It must have a strong gender analysis and perspective should inspire and influence Particular attention should be given to the gender dimensions of agroecology, to both recognise the role of women in agroecology as well analyze the potential of agroecology in fostering women’s rights and women’s full empowerment and autonomy.”
She said agroecology emphasises, mainly local, technology, innovations and inputs that are knowledge-intensive, low cost, practical for small and medium-scale producers, and locally available, including on the farm or range itself in an integrated or mixed-farming or pastoral system.
“It emphasises practices which enhance the adaptive capacity of agriculture and livestock raising and so reduce its vulnerability, or, make it more resilient to environmental stresses and hocks such as flood or drought and climate change,” she stated, adding, “In many ways, agroecology is the antithesis of current conventional, corporate-driven, monoculture-based agricultural systems.”
The AFSA coordinator noted that where conventional agriculture seeks to simplify, agroecology embraces complexity. Where conventional agriculture aims to eliminate biodiversity, agroecology depends on diversity, and builds upon it and where conventional agriculture pollutes and degrades, agroecology regenerates and restores, working with nature – not against nature. Speaking on AFSA she said the core purpose of the organisation is to influence policies and to promote African solutions for food sovereignty. AFSA will serve as a continental platform for consolidation of issues pertaining to food sovereignty and together marshal a single and louder voice on issues and tabling clear workable solutions.
Other members who adopted the recommended adjustments and resolutions include FCT Cassava Growers Association, BFA Food and Health, Climate Energy Remediation Society, Urban Rural Environmental Defenders, Daylight Network, Nigerian Women Agro-Allied Farmers and Association of Cashew Growers .