New Delhi, Jun 8: As a part of India-Africa agriculture partnership, Indian Council of Food and Agriculture (ICFA), in collaboration with World Bank & Department for International Development (DFID), has organised its first round-table conference on 'Climate Change and Food Security in Africa: The Policy Priorities' here.
The ICFA is an apex think tank for addressing policy issues concerning farmers, food and agro-industries and serves as a global platform for trade facilitation, partnerships, technology, investments and agribusiness services.
The current status of agricultural growth and climate change have been a concern for nations across the globe. The global pattern of climate change may have an adverse impact on crop productivity that in turn could affect food availability. Climate change will also impact livestock, forestry, fisheries, and aquaculture, and can cause grave social and economic consequences in the form of reduced incomes, eroded livelihoods, trade disruption and adverse health.
This round-table conference was organised on Friday to discuss these formidable issues as well as issues related to agriculture and climate change plaguing the African nations. About 10 representatives from various African countries including Rwanda, Malawi, Botswana, Tunisia and Niger along with officials from Bangladesh and Australian High Commission were present during the round-table.
The round-table conference served as a platform for dialogue between African delegates with their Indian counterparts on options for addressing the impacts of climate change on agriculture and food security in Africa, and the need for learning from the Indian experiences and models.
The conference focussed on understanding the motion of current variability and future with respect to climate change. Ensuring food security in the face of climate change will be a formidable challenge and would necessitate the adoption of sustainable agricultural practices, greater emphasis on urban food security and long-term relief measures in the event of natural disasters, noted the leaders unanimously.
Speaking on the occasion, former IAS officer and ICFA Vice Chairman Alok Sinha said, "Democratic way of governance is increasing in India but a large body of society and politicians are not able to take a stand on climate change." "The problem of climate change is acute and needs to be solved immediately," he added.
Keshav Chandra, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce and Industry, said, "There are a lot of similarities between India and Africa, and both the countries are High Growth Regions (HGRs). India and Indian companies have extended helping hand in different parts of Africa and will continue to do so for the development of the region."
Agriculture in Africa has an enormous social and economic activity. More than 60 per cent of the population of sub-Saharan Africa is smallholder farmers, and about 23 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP comes from agriculture. Yet, Africa’s full agricultural potential remains untapped. Agriculture today accounts for 32 per cent of gross domestic product in Africa. Yet the sector has suffered sustained neglect and, as a result, Africa has gone from being an exporter of agricultural products in the 1960s to a net importer today.
By 2050, Africa will be home to one-fifth of the world’s population. This rapid growth, combined with a strong trend towards urbanisation, poses significant challenges for food security, peace and security, and economic opportunity in the region.
Dr Neena Malhotra, Joint Secretary, Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) said, "India has signed MoUs with various African countries and working on bilateral, regional and co-operational relations with these countries. Agriculture is the source of livelihood in India and Africa and both the nations have similar landscape and agricultural practices."
Climate change is emerging as a major challenge to agriculture development in Africa. The increasingly unpredictable and erratic nature of weather systems on the continent has placed an extra burden on food security and rural livelihoods. Widespread destruction of farms and homes in recent record flooding in Burkina Faso and the prolonged drought in Ethiopia demonstrate the extent of the threat posed by Africa’s changing climate.
Kathryn Hollifield, Practice Manager, The World Bank, commenting on the issue of climate change stated, "Platforms like these can be a good forum to discuss on how climate change is impacting the agriculture both in Africa and India. Agriculture is a victim as well as the cause of global warming and climate change. But at the same time, it can be one of the saviours of the humankind."
Most African governments have laid aggressive policies to tackle these challenges but still face several constraints and challenges in terms of appropriate policy, technology, financing and institutions. This calls for collaborations among both - African countries and other countries to work on multiple fronts. Issues linked to agriculture and climate are global and all the countries need to come together to tackle these challenges.