The Farms of Change: African Smallholders Responding to an Uncertain Climate Future

The Farms of Change: African Smallholders Responding to an Uncertain Climate Future

The Farms of Change
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25th September 2015. New York. The Montpellier Panel report ‘The Farms of Change: African Smallholders Responding to an Uncertain Climate Future’ was presented by Agriculture for Impact ahead of the Climate Week.

Africa is already battling against the impacts of climate change. Mean temperatures in Africa will rise faster than the global average, and agricultural losses in the region will amount to 2% to 7% of GDP by 2100. By 2050, hunger and child malnutrition could increase by as much as 20% as a result of climate change, reversing the gains achieved through the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) process whilst jeopardising the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The report calls for donors and government to boost investment, to avoid problems that would have catastrophic results on African development such as major food shortages, increased child malnutrition, unplanned migration, food price hikes and exacerbated poverty.

The report advocates for this funding gap to be met through public and private resources, but allowing local governments to allocate funds according to need. The report analyses the finance options currently available to smallholders from multilateral funding mechanisms, as well as schemes such as carbon markets.

“Change will come from the bottom up as local people take action for themselves,” says Ramadjita Tabo, one of the study’s authors and head of the West and Central African hub of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics in Niamey, Niger.

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21 September 2015. How low-tech farming innovations can make African farmers climate-resilient

The Soils, Food and Healthy Communities project has been teaching agroecological methods in hundreds of Malawian villages over the last fifteen years and the results have been impressive.

Farmers started planting crops that enhance soil fertility such as peanuts, beans and pigeonpea, which provide a food source as well as other benefits such as a source of cash, livestock feed and even fuelwood. Families had improved child nutrition and food security was enhanced as well as land quality. These methods are now expanding to thousands of farmers through the Malawi Farmer to Farmer Agroecology project.

However, Anita and her colleagues face an uphill battle. This year the Malawi government has indicated that overall crop yields will be even lower, by almost one-third, due to drought in the north and floods in the south. Recent reports anticipate severe impacts, particularly on the poor in the next few months. In a country in which the majority of people grow at least half of their own food supply, this news suggests that the coming year will be grim for Anita’s village and many more families across the country.

The most recent climate change studies leave no room for doubt that human activities primarily in the Global North release carbon and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, leading to unprecedented shifts in climate: rising temperatures and consequently increased droughts, floods, unpredictability of precipitation and rising sea levels. A recent study found that Africa contributes about two percent of all greenhouse gas emissions, and that is only based on current emissions, not even taking historical emissions into account.

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