COP17/CMP7 has brought awareness of climate change closer to Africa. It has offered the continent a unique opportunity to influence global decisions about climate change and to establish an agricultural programme based on scientific research.
Climate change is a major environmental challenge that affects the whole world.
According to scientists, the African continent will face intense droughts, famine, disease and floods as a result of climate change. It is also reported that the continent is already warming faster than the global average.
Before COP17, which took place from 28 November to 9 December in Durban, South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, convened a two-day African ministerial conference under the theme “Climate-Smart Agriculture: A call to Action.”
What is climate smart agriculture?
Climate-smart agriculture means using farming techniques that release less greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and therefore do not contribute to climate change. It includes proven techniques such as agro-forestry, zero tilling and intercropping among others.
Agro-forestry combines agriculture with forestry so that the land can be used for more than one purpose at the same time. Zero tillage or no-tillage is a farming method in which the seeds are directly deposited into untilled soil which has retained the previous crop residues.
The aim is to move as little soil as possible to prevent weed seeds from coming to the surface and to not stimulate them to germinate. Intercropping is a farming practice in which two or more crops are grown together in the same field.
One of the aims of the climate-smart agriculture conference was to prepare African ministers responsible for agriculture on the continent to speak in one voice while pushing for climate-smart agriculture at COP17.
Joemat-Pettersson said climate-smart agriculture, which is a fairly new concept in Africa, could help the continent achieve food security.
“African agriculture is vulnerable to climate change; ensuring food security under a changing climate is therefore one of the major challenges in our era.”
International Relations Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane said agriculture could cost-effectively reduce greenhouse gases through changes in agricultural technologies and management practices.