Africa needs new farming system – Dr Akoto

The Minister of Food and Agriculture, Dr Owusu Afriyie Akoto, has called on scientists to develop new technologies, and knowledge to help produce food and fibre in a sustainable way that aligns with the new climate realities.

With the impact of climate change and other factors on food security, he said, Africa needed new farming systems and techniques to aid farmers produce more with less external input.

 “We also will need to develop new varieties, and new livestock breeds that are tolerant to adverse weather conditions and are able to withstand the vagaries of climate change,” he said.

Dr Akoto was speaking at the opening of a three-day Science and Partnerships for Agriculture Conference (SPAC 2022) underway in Accra.

More than 350 delegates from 35 African countries and others from Europe are attending the event organised by the Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA), a continent-wide non-governmental organisation.

The event, on the theme, “Introspection on climate-smart agriculture action to strengthen accountability, resource use and impact in Africa”, has created the platform for discussion on innovative solutions to climate-smart agriculture.

Dr Akoto said innovation in agriculture was vital because more than 147 million people were facing crisis levels of food insecurity, an increase of 20 million since 2020, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

He said even before the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the situation, the sustainability of African food systems was challenged by climate change and conflict, while the Russia-Ukraine war  had worsened the condition through effects on food, fuel, and fertiliser.

He said the impact of climate change on the agricultural ecosystem, evident in increasing temperatures and seal levels, and the possibility of more extreme weather would threaten human health, safety, and food security, especially on the African continent.

With agriculture contributing to about 20 per cent greenhouse gas emissions – the second highest contributor to climate change and at the same time, taking the greatest toll of the climate change effects, he said, the global community of science should be up to the task and find solutions.

“While research will do its bit, we all have a role to play by changing our living culture and practices. Our ability to think green and mainstream green actions in all our activities will go a long way to combating climate and achieving sustainable food systems,” he said.

Ghana, according to Dr Akoto, had developed a climate smart-agriculture plan in response to the national climate change policy with various programmes introduced including the ‘Planting For Food And Jobs’ to tackle several of the root problems in Ghana’s agricultural value chain.

The FARA Board Chair, Dr Alioune Fall, called for intercontinental partnership and collaboration to tackle issues in the sector because they had rippling effects on every country.

“Our partnership is a good instrument for mutual learning, exchange of knowledge and technologies, and fostering synergies. This will help strengthen the strong and help the weak come to good speed in their craving for development and self-actualisation,” he said.

 BY JONATHAN DONKOR

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