Africa, a continent blessed with abundant agricultural potential, faces the mounting challenges of climate change that threaten its food security and livelihoods. To address these pressing issues, stakeholders and academia from across the continent convened at the inaugural conference on accelerating agricultural adaptation in Africa. This landmark event will epitomize the collective commitment to building resilient food systems, harnessing innovation, and safeguarding the well-being of Africa’s diverse communities. The conference will serve as a platform for knowledge exchange, collaboration, and partnership-building among stakeholders from governments, international organizations, farming communities, research institutions, and the private sector. Participants will share experiences, success stories and best practices to collectively tackle the formidable challenges facing African agriculture.
Challenges and Opportunities
Climate change continues to pose severe challenges to African agriculture, including unpredictable weather patterns, increased droughts, and frequent extreme weather events, which directly impact agricultural production and rural communities in Africa. However, within these challenges lies opportunities to enhance adaptation strategies as the agricultural sector employs more than 60% of the world’s population, promote sustainable agriculture, and embark on a transformative journey towards climate resilient farming practices. Agriculture is the backbone of many African economies, employing 55-628 of the workforces and contributing significantly to GDP (IFAD, 2020, AfDB, 2022).
- Current adaptation practice falls woefully short of what is required, in both nature and extent.
- incremental in nature
- typically, do not address future risks from climate change
- may reinforce existing vulnerabilities or introduce new risks (maladaptation),
- particularly for the most vulnerable, by inadequately involving stakeholders, retrofitting development activities as adaptation, and not paying sufficient attention to local contexts and power dynamics – Adaptation Gap Report, UNEP
- Estimated annual adaptation needs are USD 160-340 billion by 2030 and USD 315-565 billion by
Building Resilient Food Systems
Central to the discussions on day one was the imperative to build resilient food systems through climate smart agriculture. Deliberations explored innovative practices such as agroforestry, conservation agriculture, precision farming, and climate resilient crop varieties. Participants emphasized the importance of integrating traditional knowledge with modern technology and empowering farmers with adaptive tools and techniques.
Recognizing the need for adequate financial resources and technology transfer, discussions addressed strategies for increasing access to climate finance and promoting technology partnerships. Participants highlighted the role of innovative financing mechanisms, public-private collaborations, and investment in research and development to unlock the potential of climate-resilient agriculture across the continent. Climate financing for agricultural adaptation in Africa Is critical to ensure food security and livelihoods in the face of climate change impacts
AFRICAN YOUTH DEMANDING TRANSITION TO AGROECOLOGY
A focal point of the conference was recognizing the pivotal role of youth in driving agricultural adaptation, participants emphasized the need to engage and empower youth farmers, entrepreneurs, and innovators through robust support systems, mentorship programs, and access to financing, enabling them to contribute to building sustainable and climate resilient agricultural systems. A comprehensive shift to agroecology across the entire food system, encompassing sustainable resource management, social empowerment, local value addition, short value chains, and equitable access to healthy and culturally appropriate food. Policymakers must provide robust support and invest in infrastructure to facilitate the wide scale adoption of agroecology, allowing farmers to adapt to climate change challenges while preserving our precious natural resources and biodiversity.
Day one of the inaugural conference on accelerating agricultural adaptation for Africa concluded with a renewed commitment to harnessing the continent’s agricultural potential while safeguarding it from the impacts of climate change. Africa Is an exposure and vulnerability “hot spot” for climate variability and change impacts, yet Agriculture is the backbone of its economy and accounts for most livelihoods across the continent. This sector employs 60% – 70% of Africa’s workforce (40% of these workers are women). The sector accounts for about a quarter of the continent’s GDP (OECD and FAO, 2016; World Bank, 2016) Enhancing agricultural performance will improve the quality and standards for the inhabitants of this continent. By integrating traditional knowledge, innovative practices, increased financing, technology transfer, and youth empowerment, Africa’s agricultural sector is poised to undergo a transformative journey towards climate adaptation and resilience, ensuring food security, livelihoods, and a sustainable future for generations to come.