The experts who were addressing the opening session of the 5th congress of the Seed Trade Association of Kenya (STAK) said that although climate change is threatening the agricultural sector on the continent, farmers such as those in rural areas are not adopting technologies to mitigate it.
“It is now increasingly apparent that the farming community must embrace seed varieties that can withstand extreme weather conditions.”
James Karanja, The Seed Trade Association of Kenya
The conference held in Kenya this month (8-9 November) brought together experts from government, private sector, academic institutions and seed companies. The delegates discussed and shared experiences on topics such as seed and trade, climate change and agricultural productivity, and marketing and access to technology.
“It is now increasingly apparent that the farming community must embrace seed varieties that can withstand extreme weather conditions,” said James Karanja., the chairperson of STAK. “Farmers should consequently consider using certified seeds suitable for their climatic zones while the seed industry should make these seeds available.”
Karanja added that researchers are working to find crop varieties that can do well under particular climatic conditions.
The conference was convened and sponsored by STAK in collaboration with Kenya Seed Company, America’s Monsanto and Kenya Markets Trust.
Duncan Onduu, the chief executive officer of STAK, tells SciDev.Net that climate change has made several Sub-Saharan Africa countries experience severe floods and extremely hot temperatures. He adds that these floods wash away crops, kill animals and destroy houses while intense heat affects the germination of crops.
Will Bett, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for agriculture, livestock and fisheries, says that many countries in Sub-Saharan Africa such as Kenya are struggling with droughts. He indicates a need to engage more young people in agriculture to make it sustainable as it contributes 26 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product. Bett explains that the failure by last year’s COP 21 meeting to seriously discuss agriculture was a disadvantage to Sub-Saharan Africa, which heavily relies on rain-fed agriculture. “I am happy this year’s COP 22 in Morocco put more emphasis on agriculture,” says Bett.
He challenges African governments to invest more in creating and using agricultural data.
But Florence Muringi Wambugu, the CEO of Kenya-headquartered Africa Harvest Biotech Foundation International, says that there is a need for creating partnerships beyond seed business and ensuring smallholder farmers access information, especially on ‘climate-smart’ seed varieties.
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.