Sep 7, 2021 | Blog

Insights: Can African agriculture contribute to Net Zero

The insights session provided a thought-provoking stance on achieving net zero, moderated by Georgie Ndirangu Media Broadcaster, BBC Multimedia Broadcast.

Dr. Ruben Echeverria Chair, CGIAR Global Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification started off by stating ‘Yes, we can achieve Net Zero’. He continued to add that it can be achieved if we invest in agriculture to achieve productivity and ensure rural development. He cited that Africa is responsible for 2-3% of global carbon emissions but also has the most vulnerable people who are greatly affected and less equipped to tackle its challenges.

Adding to the conversation was Dr. Leonard Mizzi Directorate-General for International Partnerships – Sustainable Agri-Food systems and Fisheries, European Union(EU). He cited that the EU has unveiled proposals like the contribution to the farm to fork strategy are all efforts geared towards achieving Net Zero. “We need to focus on what can be done suited to the various countries in Africa, encompassing cross-fertilization of ideas on various topics like diversity of crops and farming systems, and basically a holistic approach will be critical,” he said. He added that the EU is considering one pathway as a priority with member states and beneficiaries in its programming is Agro-ecology to combat climate change.

“We need to create a shift by incorporating cultural sensitive change through carbon cropping and introducing organic fertilizers. You get food security if you have legumes and tree crops side by side to improve soil development,” said Ms. Poorva Pandya Deputy CEO ETG Farmers Foundation (EFF). She reminded all that 75% of rise in production is due to land expansion but only effects 25% farm productivity which is alarming as farming is the backbone of the economy. She added that adding measures such as bio-fertilizers, legume and tree crop cross planting improves soils, yields and the entire value chain.

Dr. Yemi Akinbamijo Executive Director, Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa Incorporating livestock cited, “technologies will help to improve the quality of nutrition in animal produce, pastoralists for example we need forages to raise the productivity of animals and ensure environmental friendliness.”

When asked if Africa’s food systems achieve net Zero, Dr. Ruben Echeverria Chair, CGIAR Global Commission on Sustainable Agriculture Intensification (CoSAI) answered that it is possible if countries become responsible to counter key challenges in agriculture which will eventually reduce emissions. Citing an example he said, “Gabon is a net absorber of more than 100m tonnes a year of CO2 which is about one third of the carbon that France emits. Countries should pay for the carbon they trap!”

“We need to have more expertise on the continent especially regarding extension services,” Ms. Poova added. The last punchline to finalize the session was given by Dr. Leonard Mizzi who stated, “Intra-trading proves to be the game-changer for the African continent.”

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