By Busani Bafana
Durban, Dec. 7 — The global financial crunch is not a reason to avoid climate-friendly investments that will help Africa’s agriculture grow says former UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan.
“Global leaders are struggling with continuing financial turmoil, rising unemployment and increasing social tension,” Annan said at a panel discussion on climate-smart agriculture on the sidelines of COP 17 in Durban, South Africa.
Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) involves conservation agriculture: this would include crop rotation, agro forestry, better weather forecasting and integrated crop-livestock management. CSA is aimed at environmentally friendly increases in food production, thereby reducing carbon emissions from agriculture. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimated emissions from farming to be at 14% of the world total in 2007.
Annan says world leaders cannot ignore the crises faced by food production through climate change.
The former UN chief wants the developed world to own up the $100 billion they pledged in Copenhagen for the Green Climate Fund by 2020.
“The financial crisis has shown the gravity of waiting for disaster to strike before taking action.”
According to the Action on Climate Smart Agriculture policy brief, compiled by the African Union and South Africa’s Ministry of Agriculture, food security, poverty and climate change should be seen as one entity in the fight against climate change.
South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, says transformation of African agriculture is key through Climate Smart Agriculture.
Joemat-Petterson, however, wants the equivalent of a political revolution to deal with climate change.
“We need alternative ideas to overthrow what is holding the continent and the globe at ransom,” said Joemat-Pettersson. “We must end this dictatorship of climate change. We want to make sure that we all have an action plan for CSA. We have done the talking and now is the time for us to pick up our axe, to pick up our spade and roll up our sleeves and do the work.”
The World Bank, which is working with African Union to reach target set in Maputo in 2003 of 10 percent of national budgets spent on agriculture, agreed that climate-smart farming needs greater attention to transform African agriculture.
Finally, adding to the climate-smart agriculture discussions, the Africa Union Commission Chairperson, Jean Ping, wants water management high on Africa’s climate change agenda.
“Let us not neglect water, water is an important resource … we can eradicate famine with the management of water.”