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Transforming Agriculture across East and Southern Africa

Sep 25, 2017

By:Christopher Muller
Communications Manager, Vuna Africa
Event Date: 16 November 2017
Event Location: Marrakech, Morocco

Transforming Agriculture across East and Southern Africa

Hon. O.C.Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, Government of Zimbabwe

As the eyes of the world turned towards Marrakech for the UNFCCC’s 22nd Conference of Parties (COP22), countries across East and Southern Africa used Africa Day as the perfect opportunity to join together at an official Side Event to showcase their efforts in transforming the practices of the smallholder farmers most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

The Government of Zimbabwe’s Minister for Environment, Water and Climate, Hon. O.C.Z. Muchinguri-Kashiri, highlighted the importance of increasing productivity of the agricultural sector:

“The ever increasing population presents the world with a great challenge of food security given the effects of climate change on the agricultural sector. This is compounded by recurrence of droughts, high cost of production, degraded soils, undeveloped markets and rural to urban migration. Lack of funding to farmers, especially smallholders farmers and unavailability of lines of credit have also undermined agricultural production in developing countries, especially Africa.”

2015-16 was an El Niño year, causing wide-spread drought across the Southern African region, with Zimbabwe alone having to import over 700,000 tonnes of maize to support the 2.4 million people devastated by the drought.

In response to such climatic shocks, the Southern African region has already started to “climate smart” its agricultural practices, moving away from traditional rain-fed agriculture and putting more of an emphasis on irrigation schemes, drought-tolerant seeds and diversification of crops and livestock amongst other techniques.

Ishamel Sunga, the CEO of the Southern African Confederation of African Unions reiterated in his address that the international community should be striving to ensure that smallholder farmers are not just able to “survive” but can transform their practices sufficiently to “thrive”, in spite of the increasingly erratic weather patterns which have such a significant impact on the agricultural sector and therefore on international food security.

Ishmael Sunga, CEO, SACAU

Hosted by the Government of Zimbabwe and SACAU, the event was coordinated by Vuna, a regional Climate Smart Agriculture programme funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development and implemented by Adam Smith International. Golden Mahove, Vuna’s Deputy Team Leader, invited Ministry representatives from Vuna’s priority countries to take to the stage and share their differing experiences of supporting CSA uptake in their national context.

Gertrude Kambauwa from the Government of Malawi highlighted the importance of coordination for CSA to be successful, ensuring consistent messages are received by farmers on the ground and key stakeholders are all working towards a common aim. Mary Majule from the Government of Tanzania reiterated the importance of mapping CSA activity on a large scale so as to facilitate reporting and measurement of results. The Government of Zambia’s e-voucher scheme was expertly described by Mr Justin Chuunka who highlighted the important role the private sector has to play in supporting uptake of CSA.

The panel also responded to a diverse range of questions from the audience. From L-R: Kudzai Ndidzano (Zimbabwe), Mary Majule (Tanzania), Justin Chuunka (Zambia), Gertrude Kambauwa (Malawi)

This event was not only an opportunity for countries across the region to come together to learn from one another, but it has also enabled the East and Southern Africa region to have their voices heard on the world stage, putting the spotlight on the challenges smallholder farmers are facing across the region, and the ways in which the uptake of climate smart agriculture can overcome them.