By Kofi Adu Domfeh
From Maputo to Malabo, the NEPAD Agency’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) has shown the way to transform Africa’s agricultural sector.
For the past decade, CAADP has served as the continent’s policy framework for agricultural sector growth and economic development.
The Maputo Declaration of African Heads of States was “unprecedented”, says Dr. Augustin Wambo Yamdjeu, Coordinator of CAADP.
In Maputo, governments committed to increase their public expenditure to agriculture by allocating a minimum of ten percent of annual budgets to the sector.
There is now the quest to grow the agriculture sector by an annual six percent under the Malabo Declaration, which is crucial to consolidate the achievements and gains in the implementation of CAADP to ensure food and nutrition security.
“The Malabo Declaration is a game-changer,” said Dr. Yamdjeu during a media teleconference on “Walking the Talk – Malabo Declaration”. He has emphasized that the two declarations are mutually re-enforcing.
Vulnerabilities of Smallscale Farming
Smallscale farming is at the heart of CAADP implementation.
A recent study by NEPAD has found that smallscale farmers are the prime financiers of the agricultural sector in Africa and also provide food for close to 70percent of the continent’s population.
Climate change, however, threatens the drive to protect the interest of smallholder farmers in the next decade – 2015-2025 – of Sustaining CAADP Momentum.
“Climate change is something that we are suffering from; there is no doubt about it. But our contribution to climate change is minimal compared to the extent of impact that we are facing today,” observed Dr. Yamdjeu.
According to the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), Sub-Saharan Africa faces a significant decline in soil fertility, a situation that could worsen food security in the region.
An earlier study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) had also indicated that climate change would hit developing countries the hardest, leading to massive decline in crop yields and production.
The study said 25 million more children would be malnourished by 2050 due to the effects of climate change.
In Ghana, for instance, the reality of the impacts of the changing climate is dawning on local farmers.
True to forecast by Ghana’s meteorological agency this year, low rains have been recorded in the northern and middle belts of the country, compared to previous years.
Farmers in the country’s food basket areas like Techiman, Nkoranza and Atebubu in the Brong Ahafo Region are counting huge losses in cassava, yam and maize production as a result of the poor rains.
There is fear of food scarcity if the rainfall pattern persists.
The NEPAD Agency has been implementing climate-related programmes, including the Agriculture Climate Change Programme, Gender Agriculture Climate Change, Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance, NEPAD Climate Fund and TerrAfrica Sustainable Land and Water Management.
However, the level of scientific knowledge and research findings in tackling climate change is still limited in local farming communities.
The concern therefore is that the needs of small-scale farmers must be prioritized on the road to Paris in December, when a legally binding climate agreement is expected to be reached at the UN Climate Change Conference.
The CAADP Coordinator believes “to adapt is most crucial to Africa”, stating that adoption of new technologies must be accessible and affordable.
Vulnerable African farmers need to merge indigenous knowledge with new technologies to be resilient to climate change.
“They need to do something for the smallscale farmer because it is only by making them stronger, by making their livelihoods system more resilient in the face of climate variability that we are going to attain sustainable development,” said Dr. Yamdjeu.
Walking the Talk of the Malabo Declaration would therefore require that African governments and the African Group of Negotiators highlight the interest of the African smallholder farmer in the climate talks, especially in presenting their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) to the UNFCCC.