Opening Remarks by Hon. Argent Chuula, FANRPAN Board Chairman
- The Minister of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives
- Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives
- FANRPAN CEO, Dr Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and staff
- FANRPAN country node hosting institutions
- Senior government officials, farmers, private sector
- Media representatives
- Distinguished guests
- Ladies and gentlemen and particularly climate smart champions
- All protocols observed
I would like to welcome you all to the FANRPAN Climate Smart Agriculture Regional Policy Dialogue aptly themed “Creating an Enabling Environment for Scaling up Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA): The Road to Paris!”
The threat of climate change has never been more urgent than today. Africa is one of the most vulnerable continents to the impacts of climate change, which have negative implications on food security and economic development. According to the Fifth Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), projections are that under medium scenarios many areas in Africa will exceed a 2 degree Celsius increase by the last two decades of this century, which will have big ramifications for agriculture and farmers’ livelihoods.
Agriculture is dependent on a conducive climate environment. The climate conditions determine when we plant, the amount of rain received, the growth and many other factors throughout the agriculture value chain. A two-degree increase of temperature in the earth’s atmosphere may mean re-entry of pests and diseases that were eradicated and even new diseases we do not know of.
However, ladies and gentlemen, just as climate change affects agriculture, so does agriculture affect climate change. Greenhouse gases are stored in the soil and released into the atmosphere when the soil is disturbed. Excess fertilizer-use can release nitrates into the air; and livestock production when badly managed, can contribute methane and nitrates to the collection of greenhouse gases.
Agriculture is therefore, caught between conflicting pressures. On the one hand, it needs to reduce its carbon footprint by making more efficient use of productive technologies. On the other hand, it needs to intensify production yields to meet the food demands of an ever-growing world population.
As the FANRPAN Board Chairman, together with fellow colleagues in the Board, I would like to extend my congratulations to the FANRPAN CEO, Dr. Lindiwe Majele Sibanda and her team for convening this Regional Policy Dialogue looking at how Climate Smart Agriculture can steer agricultural research and development into a new era of global efforts to advance not only Africa’s food and nutrition security but that of the world.
FANRPAN is always on top of issues, you will agree with me Ladies and gentlemen that this dialogue could not be more timely as it is taking place a month before the world endorses the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and three months before the 21st Conference of the Parties (COP21) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in Paris, France in December 2015.
This year the goal of COP21 is to get all countries to commit to a universally binding climate agreement. It is hoped that the COP21 will witness a watershed where the climate challenge is not any more a necessary "burden sharing" of emissions, but also an opportunity for agriculture to thrive, job creation and wealth, inventing new patterns of production and consumption.
I am excited, because as Africa we have a chance to seize the moment to demand a strong agreement at COP21 that will ensure that the deal that comes out of Paris is a deal that works for our farmers and rewards their efforts. This dialogue, ladies and gentlemen presents a unique opportunity for all of us as African climate smart agriculture stakeholders and champions to concretize a unified African position on agriculture ahead of CoP 21.
We need to come out of here with clear recommendations for the African Group of Negotiators to take with them to Paris. It is my hope that the recommendations should relate to:
- Favorable policies for CSA
- Innovations and Technology Transfer for CSA
- Strengthening capacity for CSA Research and Training
- Enhancement of the uptake of CSA through domestic climate financing
- Best ways of communicating CSA science to policy makers and farmers
I am happy to see that we have all stakeholder groups represented at this dialogue, this means that the voices of the African farmers, researchers, civil society, business and, the youth will be heard.
I thank you all for accepting the invitation to come and dialogue on these important issues and I would like to urge all of you that in the next two days, you put your best thinking caps and concretize a unified position on African Agriculture as we look forward to CoP 21 in Paris.
Before I sit down, I must also acknowledge that all this would not have been possible without the support that FANRPAN has received from our development partners. Today I wish to acknowledge the following development partners for their unwavering support:
- The Africa Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)
- Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA)
- International Development Research Center (IDRC)
- Food, Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
- Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad)
- Platform for African-European Partnership in Agriculture and Rural Development (PAERPARD) being led by the Forum for Agriculture Research in Africa (FARA)
We look forward to your continued support.
A special thank you to the Government and the people of Zambia for graciously welcoming us into their country and hosting the Policy Dialogue
On behalf of the FANRPAN Board, I thank you and bring you greetings and blessings from H.E. Sindiso Ngwenya, whom most of you know as the Secretary General of COMESA but is the former FANRPAN Board Chair.