Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, Minister of Food and Agriculture, has appealed to the global science community to develop and upscale new technologies to respond to the emerging climate crisis and help to produce food sustainably.
The Minister bemoaned the effects of climate change on the agricultural ecosystem and expressed concern over the possibility of more extreme weather that could threaten human health, safety and food security.
“Prediction up to 2024 shows the possibility of continued warming and decreasing rainfall, especially over North and Southern Africa, and increased rainfall over the Sahel.
“These changes are going to affect our food systems and will take only science and policy action to enable the world to respond adequately,” Dr Akoto said when he opened the Science and Partnerships for Agriculture conference in Accra on Wednesday.
About 350 delegates comprising researchers, experts, and policymakers from more than 40 countries have converged in Accra to discuss innovative and sustainable solutions to challenges of climate change in African agriculture.
Under the auspices of the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), the three-day event is on the theme: “Introspection on climate-smart agriculture actions to strengthen accountability, resource use, and impact in Africa.”
Dr Akoto described the conference as timely, saying that the COVID-19 pandemic had had a devastating effect on global and national food systems.
He said there was the need for the world to build resilient food systems in the wake of the Russia-Ukraine war which he said had taken a toll on the world through the effects of food, fuel, and fertilisers.
Dr Akoto urged the participants to conduct a deep reflection on the issues at stake and help to “chart a new chapter that is promising.”
“Agriculture is reported to be contributing about 20 per cent of greenhouse gas emission, being the second highest contributor to climate change. On the other hand, agriculture takes the greatest toll on the effect of climate,” he said.
The United Nations has projected that the world’s population could increase to over 9.6 billion people by 2050, and food demand is set to increase by between 60 and 100 per cent.
According to the UN, currently, 1 in 9 people are “chronically hungry,” and the world’s poorest people are the most affected.
Dr Alioune Fall, Chairperson, FARA Board of Directors, said despite the progress achieved by researchers in enhancing food security, the agriculture sector was yet to attain the desired point.
He mentioned productivity constraints, the predominance of the smallholder system and its inherent economic limitations, and other issues as among the challenges confronting the sector.
Dr Fall said the current challenges required intercontinental partnership and collaboration and called on the participants to “come up with a clear assessment of the pace of technologies in Climate Smart Agriculture.”
Madam Jeanine Milly Cooper, the Minister of Agriculture, Liberia, called for more investment into technology generation, adding that such investments must deliver specific national and continental goals.
“As a policy maker and erstwhile, a technocrat, there is no reluctance whatsoever in investing in research for a technological generation; but we must all put the right mechanism in place to ensure that the investment is quickly translated into measurable development outcomes even in the short run,” she said.
Dr Abebe Haile-Gabriel, the Assistant Director General, Food and Agriculture Organisation, Africa, said rapid measures were needed to build climate resilience and pledged the continuous support of the organisation to ensure that regional perspectives were strengthened.