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Africa’s new institution to promote food security
  • Africa’s new institution to promote food security

Copyright: Sven Torfinn/Panos

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  • Land degradation affects 65 per cent of Africa’s land, and thus food security

  • A new assembly has been formed to aid ecosystem-based food security

  • Experts call for sustainable funding to help the assembly achieve its mandate

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[NAIROBI] Agricultural experts and policymakers have formed a new institution to promote sustainable food systems in Sub-Saharan Africa and to deal with the challenges posed by climate change.
 
The African Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA) which aims to advocate for sustainable ecosystem-friendly agricultural systems was formed during the 2nd Africa Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Conference held in Kenya on 30-31 July.
 
Africa loses about six million of productive land a year through deforestation, with almost 65 per cent of the continent’s land being under pressure from land degradation, the conference heard.

“We must advance the science agenda, STI policy and extension, especially in the face of climate change.”

Yemi Akinbamijo, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA)

 

The EBAFOSA will work towards achieving food security, ecological productivity, job creation, poverty reduction, value addition and sustainable industrial development in Africa.
 
Yemi Akinbamijo, the executive director of the Ghana-headquartered Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa, reiterated the role of science in the re-imaging of food security in Africa.
 
“Without the advancement of science, technology and innovation (STI) in African farming systems, agriculture will be compromised. We must advance the science agenda, STI policy and extension, especially in the face of climate change,” Akinbamijo said.
 
Richard Munang, the coordinator, Africa Regional Climate Change Programme of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), urged African stakeholders to join forces towards food security on the continent and guarantee sustainable and inclusive growth through EBAFOSA.
 
Delegates agreed to adopt the EBAFOSA constitution as the principal instrument to guide the work of the assembly and form a trust fund to support the implementation of its decisions and activities on ecosystem-based adaptation (EBA) initiatives in Africa.
 
The conference also agreed to request the Kenya-based Africa Centre for Technology Studies, UNEP, the African Union Commission and other partners to host the new assembly’s secretariat.
 
Delegates also asked African research and academic institutions to conduct scientific and policy research on climate change adaptation and food security to inform policy formulation and actions at national and regional levels.
 
Jephias Matunhu, the chairperson of the Department of Development Studies, Midlands State University, Zimbabwe, described an initiative for food security in rural Zimbabwe, noting that conservation agriculture has been adopted by the farmers and that only traditional leaders could authorise the cutting down of trees.
 
Matunhu added that there is a need for creating ecosystems entrepreneurship fund for African youth to encourage them to go into conservation agriculture and spur food security.
The important role of funding was also shared by Wilber Otichillo, a member of parliament for Emuhaya constituency in Kenya.  Otichillo indicated that food security and climate change platforms such as the proposed EBAFOSA could not work without sustainable financing.
 
“These platforms will enhance a lot of collaboration in terms of research and development in Africa. We can adopt policies to address food security and climate change, but we need finance to implement them,” Otichillo explains.
 
The delegates issued a communiqué which urges “governments in Africa to create an enabling environment for technological advancement and encourage public and private investments to promote EBA-driven agriculture”.
 
This article has been produced by SciDev.Net's Sub-Saharan Africa desk.
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