African farmers need help to cope with the threats of climate change through national policies that make them more resilient, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has declared, following a major conference on food security in Rwanda.
The call comes just ahead of the release of a new report on Climate Change and Land by the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the most comprehensive scientific assessment yet of the impact that industrial agriculture, deforestation and food waste have on our planet.
“Farmers have always been innovators. What they need are policies that protect them and increase their resilience to climate change. They need access to information, technology and investment, and they should be brought to the conversation on innovation,” FAO’s Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo said at the high-level Africa Food Security Leadership Dialogue, held in Kigali from 5 to 6 August.
The FAO said that building resilience to the unavoidable impacts of climate change is one of the agency’s top development priorities in Africa, and is key to meeting the challenge of feeding over two billion people by 2050.
According to the latest FAO data, hunger is already on the rise in almost all parts of Africa, and the continent has the highest prevalence of undernourishment in the world, at almost 20 percent.
The situation is mostly driven by conflict and climate change, and is particularly acute in Eastern Africa, where almost one-third of the population are struggling to have enough to eat.
Conference participants heard that it is possible to adapt to these risks with immediate and bold action focused on resilience, and endorsed a commitment to increase support for African countries to improve their food security.
The two-day event was hosted by the Government of Rwanda, in partnership with the FAO, the African Union Commission, the African Development Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Bank.
Agriculture is gaining traction in the United Nations Climate process. The UN climate conference (COP23) in November 2017 adopted the Koronivia Joint Work on Agriculture (KJWA), which officially acknowledges the significance of the agriculture sectors in adapting to and mitigating climate change.
Under this decision, FAO supports countries providing technical support to adapt to and mitigate climate change, working in close collaboration with UNFCCC and other partners.
More information on the KJWA can be found here.