Asareca plans to roll out climate-smart agriculture in East Africa beginning 2014

Saturday July 27 2013

By ISAAC KHISA The EastAfrican

The Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa (Asareca), plans to rollout climate-smart agriculture projects in East Africa starting next year to cope with the effects of climate change on food security.

Speaking during a regional workshop on research and policy related to climate change adaptation in sub-Saharan Africa in Nairobi, Hezron Mogaka, manager of natural resources management at Asareca, said farmers in the region risk heavy losses in coming years if they are not assisted to cope with the new climatic trends.

“At the moment, our communities have their own traditional ways of dealing with climate change. However, given that it is changing so rapidly, the communities don’t have real mechanisms for adaptations and so the rate at which climate change is changing is faster compared with the rate of adaptation,” Dr Mogaka said.

Dr Mogaka said farmers in the region are incurring losses due to crop failure resulting from drought, landslides as well as loss of livestock in Kenya, Tanzania and some parts in Uganda.

Climate-smart agriculture, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, refers to the “agriculture that sustainably increases productivity, resilience, reduces or removes greenhouse gas emissions (mitigation), and enhances achievement of national food security and the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs)”

Whereas UN summit agreed in 2010 to limit the rise in global temperatures to 2 degrees by 2020, there are signs that it could even double, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency —having a negative impact on not only crops and livestock production but also on the spread of pests and diseases.

Officials at Asareca say they plan to mobilise funds for the climate-smart agriculture projects starting next year across the region.

The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and the World Bank estimate the costs of adaptation at between $41 billion and $170 billion per year by 2030, globally.

Adaptation cost

In the agriculture sector alone, the annual costs of climate change adaptation required in developing world agriculture as estimated by the International Food Policy Research Institute at between $7 billion and $8 billion per year, while the UNFCCC estimates the costs of adapting agriculture to climate change to be from $11.3 billion to $12.6 billion per year by 2030.

The East African nations mainly depend on rain-fed agriculture with over 70 per cent of the population employed in the sector.

However, Dr Emma Liwenga, a climate change consultant, said despite extensive climate change adaptation research in the East African region, there is still little evidence regarding how the generated knowledge is made useful or integrated into the agriculture sector.