Gates Foundation: leaders must invest in agricultural innovation

Rural livelihoods around the world are already facing the devastating consequences of rising temperatures – changing rainfall is reducing crop yields and even leading to poor harvests.

In sub-Saharan Africa, where agriculture accounts for more than half of jobs, drastic changes in farming practices need to be made to help farmers adapt to the rapidly warming climate.

As women form the majority of smallholder farmers, a loss of income due to climate change could deprive them of their financial independence – and undo gender equality policies.

“The agricultural platform can lift millions of people out of poverty. This platform is burning right now, ”said Enock Chikava, acting director of agricultural development at the Gates Foundation.

Just days away from the COP-26 climate change conference, the report says world leaders need to invest in research and development of climate adaptation solutions, including scaling up existing ones.

The village of Fenoaivo, Madagascar where intense droughts cause crops to stop for several months a year

/ AFP via Getty Images

Farm Africa is a charity that works to reduce poverty by helping farmers grow their crops more sustainably and their experience across East Africa highlights the potential of climate-smart agriculture for reverse declining crop yields due to climate change.

In Ethiopia’s Central Rift Valley, a Farm Africa initiative funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency saw average maize crop productivity increase by nearly 1,500 kg per hectare in two years. Adjusting planting times in response to soil moisture – among other adaptations – resulted in such a bountiful harvest.

But John Reizenstein, president of Farm Africa, says training in agronomic practices is not enough to build resilience to climate change.

“Financial inclusion remains a huge challenge for small farmers in sub-Saharan Africa,” he says.

Although the Paris Agreement on climate change promised that developed countries would provide $ 100 billion (£ 72.5 billion) to finance climate action by 2020, it failed to meet that target. .

Tunisian farmer fights to preserve natural irrigation system as water shortages in North Africa intensify

/ AFP via Getty Images

“Only less than 2% of global climate finance goes to small-scale agriculture, despite the fact that they are the backbone of food systems in countries that must be vulnerable to climate change,” said Laura Birx , Deputy Director, Strategy, Planning and Management, Agricultural Development at the Gates Foundation.

Global collaboration in the production of a vaccine against Covid-19 has brought to the fore the importance of leaders working towards a common goal.

CGIAR is the world’s largest research partnership working for sustainable and resilient agriculture and the technology it has developed has helped triple yields in Europe and North America.

Investing in global initiatives such as CGIAR and participating in initiatives such as AIM for Climate, which aims to unite nations to accelerate investments in climate-smart agriculture, can “catalyze action in areas of research to very high potential ”, explains Birx.

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