UN tasks Africa on climate change impact on food security


Abuja: The UN University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), Accra, Ghana, says African governments and other stakeholders must take steps to mitigate climate change impact on food security. This is contained in a statement issued by Ms Praise Nutakor, Communications Associate of the institute, and made available to newsmen on Thursday in Abuja.

The statement said the Director of UNU-INRA, Dr Elias Ayuk, made the remarks during a courtesy call on the South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Ms Lulama Xingwana, in Accra. Ayuk warned that climate change impact in the agricultural value chain could be severe on Africa.

The UN university official said evidence from UNU-INRA's project for ECOWAS and other reports suggested that climate impact might be severe on the continent.

According to him, some countries could see increases in crop production while a majority are very likely to become net importers of food if pragmatic measures are not taken.

He stressed the need to allocate more resources to lessen the potential effects of climate change on food security. The director, however, said it was possible to achieve food security in countries that are likely to be impacted negatively by climatic variations.

Ayuk said one way to achieve food security, in spite of climate change impact, was to channel a greater portion of resources being spent on food imports to improve agriculture. He encouraged investment in rural infrastructure such as roads, storage and processing facilities, communications systems and reliable supply networks for farmers by African countries. According to him, such investment could encourage large scale agricultural production for local consumption and for export.

He regretted that access to agricultural machinery, including tractors, usually seemed to be a major challenge for most rural farmers, appealing to stakeholders to help improve the situation through investment. "Africa would need to invest more in agriculture to adapt to climate change impact on food production. "We need commitment to implement agricultural policies and increase financial support to rural farmers to purchase farm inputs in order to reduce poverty in the continent," Ayuk said.

He stressed the need to improve trade infrastructure and reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers at some corridors to improve intra-African trade. On the issue of oil price fluctuations, Ayuk advised African governments to explore the creation of sovereign wealth funds that could be invested. According to the UN university official, proceeds from such investments can be used to buffer falling oil prices.

Responding, the South African High Commissioner reiterated the need for African countries to learn from other developing countries in order to address the challenge of high food imports. Xingwana also urged African countries to learn how to address other challenges such as waste water and poor sanitation, which were also pertinent in Africa.

The statement said Ayuk later presented UNU-INRA key publications including policy briefs on natural resources management issues to Xingwana. It said the publications were to help informed natural resources management policies for sustainable development.

 © 2015 Vanguard. All rights reserved.