As the impact of an extended period of drought across much of South Africa and the Southern African Region continues to be felt, the realisation is setting in amongst both commercial and small-scale farmers that a water-constrained environment is no longer a short-term challenge but could, in fact, become their new normal.
While this realisation is also dawning amongst agriculture stakeholders across much of the planet, it’s a reality that is particularly difficult for farmers in SA to deal with. That’s because they’re already challenged by having to operate in an environment of very low water supply per capita, compared to most other countries, not to mention an extremely low ratio of annual rainfall to annual water run-off. In fact, research done by WWF-SA showed that only about 9% of rainfall actually makes it into our rivers.
Since irrigated agriculture already accounts for more than 60% of SA’s total water usage, it’s highly unlikely that farming is set to enjoy a higher allocation of this scarce, vital resource anytime soon. In fact, the opposite is probably true. National government has declared its intention to significantly expand irrigation-based crop farming land use in the country, but no increased allocation in water rights have been specifically earmarked for this purpose.
A shift in farming mindset required
Clearly then, the onus now falls on SA’s agriculture sector – and its commercial farmers in particular – to shift the farming mindset from one of water usage to water stewardship, and proactively embrace more water-friendly technologies, practices, and attitudes.
The latter is arguably the most important paradigm shift that has to take place in order for agriculture in SA to achieve the levels of sustainability required. In previous eras, it has been acceptable for farmers to focus more on the profitability and yield potential of crops than on how thirsty they were. Today, the picture is vastly different, and profit margins have to be carefully balanced with water demand considerations of crops. That’s not to say that farmers with established water-intensive crops like tree nut or citrus orchards need to pull up their orchards and replace them with water-friendly alternatives. But where new farms or crops are to be established, indigenous or water-wise crops should now take precedence over high-profit, water intensive options.
There is also much that farmers with existing non-water-wise crops can do to lessen their impact and dependence on water. In many cases, achieving this merely requires a willingness to challenge practices that have been passed down for generations. It may also involve some short-term financial investment into water saving technology, but this will almost certainly deliver long-term sustainability returns.
One prime example of this change in mindset is being willing to invest time, effort and capital in converting a farming operation from spray to drip irrigation.
Then there are of course also the proven water and soil preservation benefits of shifting from the historically accepted practice of seasonal tilling of farmland to a low-till or no-till farming approach.
The bottom line is that there is so much information and technology available to farmers today, that there really is no excuse for anyone to be practicing farming methods that involve excessive amounts of water usage or wastage. And the simple truth is that only those farmers who are willing to invest the time and effort into learning how best to manage their farm’s water requirements will be the ones who are still in business, and producing, a decade from now.
The future of SA farming rests on emerging farmers
While it’s relatively easy for large-scale commercial farms to invest in water management technology and processes, the future of SA farming undoubtedly rests on the long-term success potential of its growing contingent of emerging farmers. In this regard, the industry has a clear responsibility to educate, enable and support this vital agriculture sector when it comes to instilling an attitude of water stewardship and effective water management at the outset.
Key to this large-scale adoption of water-efficient practices is the understanding by farmers – established and emerging – that managing water more effectively is not just a green consideration, it has become a prerequisite for ensuring long-term economic viability. For SA’s farmers the bottom line is that, when it comes to water usage, there is no longer a place for business as usual. The new, water-constrained ‘normal’ demands an absolute commitment to water efficiency – even if that means drastically changing the way they farm.
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The African Agri Council in partnership with Wesgro and the Western Cape Department of Agriculture brings the African Agri Investment Indaba (AAII), to Cape Town, South Africa 28 – 30 November 2016. The AAII features a unique and key highlight — the “Investment Discovery Matchmaking” sessions where project owners looking for investors will get the opportunity to pitch a robust panel of investors – a highlight of the Indaba.
Over 30 projects have already been submitted from 10 African countries covering a range of sectors such as technology, poultry, aquaculture, meat and livestock, fisheries and agro processing to name a few.
“The Investment Discovery Sessions’ database of projects will appeal to a broad range of investors who are looking at getting in the double digit returns that the African agri sector has to offer … half of the projects we’ve found thus far are greenfield and the half focus on expansion and existing projects…with 30 projects already in we expect this number to exceed our 100 project target by November” says Ben Leyka, Executive Director of the African Agri Council who organises the event.
Some of the heavyweight finance and investment companies already on board include Acorn Private Equity, Thebe Investment Corporation, 1K1V, JIC Holdings, Agri Vie Investments, Octopus Investments, Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), Scibus Investments PTY Ltd., Old Mutual Investment Group, Signature Agri Ventures Ltd., Camscorp, Old Mutual Investment Group, FNB, Deutsche Bank to name a few.
“We are building a platform where delegates can do more to accelerate investment into this sector,” says Leyka.
With participation from Nigeria, Ghana, Rwanda, South Africa, DRC, Tanzania, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe to name a few – the African Agri Investment Indaba is a must attend for any financier or investor involved or interested in the African agri sector, whether seasoned or a new entrant. Not only can delegates expect a number of opportunities to network with and learn from industry heavyweights and pioneers, but the unique forum offers a superb opportunity to fill their pipelines.
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Experts from World Bank Group have said that the future of Africa to provide food for its teeming population lies in deliberate huge investment in agriculture. Holger Kray, Africa Agriculture Policy Unit of the World Bank Group, disclosed this recently at a three-day workshop on reporting agriculture hosted by the Africa Media Initiative (AMI) in conjunction with the World Bank in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
Kray noted that African with wide arable land can be utilised maximally to provide food for the people of the continent, adding that agriculture holds a future for the people if all the available potentials are harnessed.
According to him, over two billion people are hungry in the world and Africa is located at a strategic place to provide food in excess in order to feed its citizen and export to other parts of the world so as to boost their economy.
“Agriculture is the only sector that can fit food crisis, therefore if we continue to do business as we are doing it now, there will be food crisis in the future therefore African should wake up to this huge responsibility.”
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Representatives from African countries are gathering in Mauritius next week to deliberate on measures to counteract Africa’s vulnerability to the impact of climate change and the importance of scientific evidence to enable society to understand and respond to climate change threats.
The Academy of Science of South Africa, in collaboration with the Mauritius Academy of Science and Technology, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and a range of other organisations, is hosting a communication event to introduce a policymakers’ booklet on Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in Africa. The event will be held on 4 and 5 July 2016 in Mauritius and will be attended by some 60 representatives.
Africa is the most vulnerable continent regarding the impact of climate change and faces innumerable development challenges that are expected to be exacerbated by projected climate changes. Of concern is the direct reliance of a significant proportion of the population on natural resources, particularly, in arable and pastoral agricultural practices, but also through fishing and harvesting of natural vegetation for shelter, fuel, medicines and crafts. Present issues related to food and water security, health and safety are likely to be compounded by projected climate changes.
At the same time, populations continue to grow, placing additional stress on resources. To combat climate change effectively, mitigation and societies’ adaptation to existing climate changes are crucial and need to be integrated into multi-sectorial policies and macro-economic frameworks for these issues to be adequately addressed. The focus must lie on informed, forward-thinking policies that integrate the best understandings of regional risks and vulnerabilities, together with local understandings of the environmental context and cultural needs. The African continent should determine its needs and capacities to tackle climate change impacts and adaptation and plan for sustainable adaptation to realistic future climate change scenarios.
The advisory booklet aims to assess the status and makes recommendations for African governments to consider when dealing with climate change and resilience in Africa. It focuses on why climate change adaptation and resilience is crucial for Africa and provides guidance on effective policy responses for climate change adaptation. It also conveys key messages on addressing the climate change impact through targeted policy actions and interventions specific to water, agriculture and food security, fisheries, coastal and urban zones, and human health.
The communication event will also provide opportunities to bring to the fore perspectives of young scientists, applying a youth lens, as well as considering the vulnerabilities of children to the impact of climate change. A gender lens will also be applied to climate change in accordance with the objectives of the international programme on Gender in Science, Innovation, Technology and Engineering (GenderInSITE), which is a part sponsor of the event. ASSAf is the southern African focal point for GenderInSITE.
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A new World Bank initiative has been launched to help Tanzanian youth improve the quality of their skills and tap into the country’s key economic sectors.
The US$120 million programme announced on 16 June will see at least 30,000 trainees in university, technical, vocational and alternative programmes benefit from an initiative designed to help eradicate deficiencies in workforce skills in Tanzania. The initiative is being funded under the World Bank’s International Development Association.
Dubbed Education and Skills for Productive Jobs, the project aims to improve the quality, quantity and relevance of skills vital for sustainable development and employment.
This will strengthen the institutional mechanisms of Tanzania’s new National Skills Development Strategy – NSDS 2016-2021 – which aims to boost the supply of quality labour for industries.
According to the World Bank, it is critical that Tanzania promotes short-term approaches to capacity building such as short-cycle training and firm-based training in addition to vocational, technical and university training.
Young people will be trained in key economic areas such as tourism and hospitality; agriculture, agribusiness and agro-processing; transport and logistics; construction; information and communications technology; and energy.
According to a World Bank statement, Tanzanian firms have identified a skills gap that is higher than the average in Sub-Saharan Africa and the rest of the world. The country also has low levels of skills compared to other developing countries, and the gap is greater at medium and higher skills levels.
An information document linked to the project states that about 32% of the population has either no primary education or incomplete primary education. Around 46% of people have completed primary education.
In addition, a large proportion of unsuccessful firms have complained of skills constraints, with 63% reporting that a lack of workers with the right skills contributed to their failure.
“The improvement of human capital by helping to address the skills gap is critical for the attainment of the country’s goal to become an industrialised economy, create income opportunities and reduce poverty,” said Bella Bird, World Bank country director for Tanzania, Malawi, Burundi and Somalia.
“But also with the population of job-seeking youths growing ever so rapidly, these actions are important for long-term development.”
The five-year initiative will be implemented in accordance with the Tanzanian government’s National Skills Development Strategy guidelines under the Ministry of Education, Science, Technology and Vocational Training.
The project will support the progress of integrated reporting and management of information systems, to enable the ministry to collect, consolidate and use real time data on service delivery for planning and monitoring.
Similarly, the project will support training institutions being funded to develop systems to track post-training employment of graduates.
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Four years ago, 27-year-old Tsering Dorji of western Bhutan’s Satsam village took to organic vegetable farming. Since then, thanks to composted manure and organic pesticide, the soil health of his farm has improved, and the yield has increased manifold.
Dorji, once a subsistence farmer, now has about 60 bags of surplus food every two months to sell and earn a profit. But come the rainy season and he still loses thousands of rupees carrying his produce to markets that are miles away.
“Vegetables like radish, carrot and cucumber often break and tomatoes get squashed when I transport them. So I have to either sell them for [the deeply discounted price of ] 5-10 rupees a kg or just throw them away. This is very a hard time for me,” Dorji told IPS.
The young farmer is not alone. The world over, but especially in developing countries, farmers lose millions of dollars due to food loss. According to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the total bill for food loss and food waste is a whooping 940 billion dollars a year.
The scenario could, however, change significantly in coming years courtesy of a new global mechanism called the Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard. Launched at the 4th Global Green Growth Forum (3GF) a two-day conference held in Copenhagen from June 6-7, this is a protocol to map the extent and the reasons for food loss and food waste across the world.
The conference, which brought together governments, investors, corporations, NGOs and research organisations, termed it a great ‘breakthrough” – one that could lead to effective control and prevention of global food loss and food waste.
“The new Food Loss and Waste Standard will reduce economic losses for the consumer and the food industry, alleviate the pressure on natural resources and contribute to realising the ambitious goals set out in the SDGs, “said Christian Jensen, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Denmark, launching the protocol.
The Food Loss and Waste Accounting and Reporting Standard (FLW) has been developed jointly by the Consumer Goods Forum, the FAO, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD), and the World Resources Institute (WRI).
Specific guidelines for how the standard will instruct countries and companies to measure their food waste are still being drafted, but the protocol includes three components.
The first is that the standard includes modular definitions of food waste that change based on what an entity’s end goal is – so if a country is interested in curbing food waste to fight food insecurity, its definition of food waste will be different than a country looking to curb food waste to fight climate change.
Secondly, the standard includes diverse quantification options, which will allow a country or company with fewer financial or technical resources to obtain a general picture of their food loss and waste.
And finally, the standard is meant to be flexible enough to evolve over time, as understanding of food waste, quantification methods, and available data improves.
Sustainable Development Goal 12.3
Food loss and waste has significant economic, social, and environmental consequences. According to the FAO, a third of the food produced in the world is lost while transporting it from where it is produced to where it is eaten, even as 800 million people remain malnourished.
In short, food loss increases hunger. The lost and wasted food also consumes about one quarter of all water used by agriculture and, in terms of land use, uses cropland area the size of China, besides generating about 8 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Target 12.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) addresses this he global food challenge by seeking to halve per capita food waste and reduce food losses by 2030.
The FLW Protocol can help steer the movement forward, say UN officials. According to Achim Steiner, the executive director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the protocol could not only help understand just how much food is “not making it to our mouths, but will help set a baseline for action”.
The protocol has also triggered the interest of business leaders like the world’s largest food company, Nestle. “What gets measured can be managed. At Nestle, we will definitely benefit significantly by using the standard to help us address our own food loss and waste,” said Michiel Kernkamp, Nestle Nordic Market chief.
Benefiting the poorest growers
But can the FLW protocol benefit the smallest and the poorest of the food producers in the developing countries who lack modern technology, innovation, and regular finance and are surrounded by multiple climate vulnerabilities such as flood, drought, salinity and other natural disasters?
“Yes,” says Khalid Bomba, CEO of Ethiopia’s Agricultural Transformation Agency.
The protocol, by identifying the pockets of food loss, can highlight the areas that need urgent intervention, he says.
“For ordinary proof producers, food loss happens for a number of reasons such as lack of innovative tools, improved seeds, market opportunity and climate change. The new protocol can be a tool to find out how much losses are happening due to each of these reasons. Once this data is collected, it can be shared with the NGOs and the business communities. Accordingly, they can decide how and where they want to intervene and what solutions they want to apply.”
Bomba, however, cautions that the protocol should not be mistaken for a solution. “This protocol in itself cannot end food loss. It is just a tool to understand the problem better and find the appropriate solution.”
Agriculture development stakeholders from across the continent and beyond are convened in Kigali for the 7th Africa Agriculture Science week which runs from 13-16 June, 2016. The week is an occasion to discuss how agriculture science, technology and innovations can contribute towards accelerating the continent’s socio-economic transformation.
Opening the discussions, Prime Minister Anastase Murekezi pointed out that the forum should be an opportunity to discuss how science, technology and innovation can be used to speed-up transformation in the agriculture sector which currently employs 65% of Africa’s labour force and leads inclusive growth driver on the continent.
“To transform Agriculture from subsistence to market oriented in this era of climate change, Africa must deploy adequate technologies that add value across the agricultural value chain,” Premier Murekezi said.
The 7th FARA Science Week and Annual General Assembly brings about 1,000 agriculture development stakeholders from the continent and beyond, including scientists, international development partners, policy makers and investors.
The Forum offers an opportunity to learn from other countries’ achievements in agriculture development and share experiences.
Dr Akinwumi A. Adesina, the African Development Bank President, who also co-chairs the meeting, said that a more food secure Africa would reduce food imports and increase food exports to stabilise foreign exchanges and economy.
The Forum for Agricultural Research in Africa (FARA) is the apex continental organisation responsible for coordinating and advocating for agricultural research-for-development. FARA serves as the technical arm of the African Union Commission on matters concerning agriculture science, technology and innovation. This event is organised every three years. The last edition was held in Accra, Ghana in July 2013.
This event has coincided with the weeklong 11th National Agriculture Show (Agrishow) underway at Mulindi show ground from 13-20 June 2016. Themed “Invest in Agricultural Innovations for Prosperity,” the exhibition showcases agricultural innovations from the continent and beyond.
Also happening is the Farmer to Farmer Extension, an international learning event co-organised by the Rwanda Agriculture Board and the Belgian Technical Cooperation.
EVERY year, thousands of young Africans join an exodus from their families’ small, often struggling, farms in the countryside. Their dream — sometimes fulfilled, often not — is to find a more rewarding and stimulating life in the continent’s rapidly growing cities. Few return, but even fewer ever completely sever their ties.
It’s a complicated connection and one I deeply understand. My own exodus to the city as a young man opened up a lifetime of opportunity that culminated with serving as president of Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. But not only did I retain my ties to agriculture, I have now returned to my roots. I’m a farmer again — at Obasanjo Farms Limited — and I’ve never been happier.
Working the land once more has given me a better perspective on two of the biggest challenges facing Africa today: how do we provide employment opportunities to the millions of young Africans, who are the world’s largest population of people under 25 years of age so they can stay in the village and farm? And how do we put an end to the seemingly endless cycles of food crises that are, as I write, playing out again with dismaying familiarity in parts of eastern and southern Africa?
Fortunately, more and more Africans like myself are seeing these issues as intertwined. We see agribusiness as Africa’s biggest opportunity to not only end hunger and malnutrition, but also as Africa’s best hope for generating income and employment, particularly in rural regions. The World Bank estimates that by 2030, demand for food in our rapidly growing urban areas will create a market for food products worth US $1 trillion. This market needs to be owned and operated by African farmers, African agriculture businesses and African food companies.
But one thing is clear to me as I return to farming: to achieve its potential, African agriculture needs a fresh infusion of innovation and talent.
I have many fond memories of my childhood in a small farming settlement near Abeokuta, the capital of Nigeria´s Ogun State. By the age of five, I was accompanying my papa to the fields where we grew cassava, maize, plantain, oil palm and other crops. A proud Yoruba man, my father was considered the most successful farmer in our village. While living with few modern amenities, we grew plenty of food, and we enjoyed the cultural wealth of our Yoruba traditions and history.
Ultimately, this way of life was unable to withstand pressures that would soon intensify — population growth, political turmoil, land scarcity and soil degradation.
Today, African farmers need several things that my father lacked but which farmers elsewhere in the world take for granted. We need improved crop varieties developed to resist disease and tolerate drought. We need access to modern inputs, like fertilisers. We need markets where farmers can profit from their labour and thus justify investments in improved production. We need affordable credit that all small businesses require and extension services that help us keep abreast of sustainable farming practices.
But ultimately we need people. Specifically, we need Africa’s best and brightest to embrace agriculture as a calling and a career.
Recently, I agreed to chair the selection committee for the new Africa Food Prize, an award that aims to recognise outstanding individuals or institutions taking control of Africa’s agriculture agenda. It started out in 2005 as the Yara Prize. But moving it to Africa in 2016 and rechristening it the Africa Food Prize has given the award a distinctive African home, African identity and African ownership. It is also a substantial award: $100,000 for the winner.
The hope is that the Prize itself and its cadre of winners will signal to the world that agriculture is a priority for Africa that all should embrace. It can call attention to the individuals who are inspiring and driving innovations that can be replicated across the continent.
I sometimes portray my return to farming as coming full circle. But in reality, while I cherish my childhood memories, I don’t want to return to the past. I want to be part of the future, where farming in Africa is a lucrative, exciting entrepreneurial pursuit and young people aspire to be farmers because they see talented men and women building a rewarding career in farming and farm-related work.
I hope that the Africa Food Prize quickly becomes a symbol of all that agriculture in Africa can offer and that one day soon, we will see a shift, when young people in urban areas will look longingly to countryside and think: there lies the land of opportunity.
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates about one-third of the food produced globally goes to waste, creating a massive amount of greenhouse gas emissions and needlessly squandering water, land, labor and energy resources. This waste is drawing the attention of global agriculture organizations and financial institutions, which have started to back initiatives aimed at scaling back food waste.
But a group of farmers in Uganda have already come up with a solution: transforming food into novel products with a longer shelf life. FSRN’s Ngala Killian Chimtom reports.
Elizabeth Nsimadala is a 36-year-old mother of two from a small village in Southern Uganda. She’s a founding member of a group of female farmers who have been making big returns by turning bananas into wine, a relatively novel product now adding diversity to Uganda’s cuisine. But it was not always so.
Before the year 2000, Nsimadala struggled to make ends meet in agriculture, frequently going hungry and repeatedly unable to pay school fees for her kids. Then an NGO came along, teaching farmers in her area about better ways of producing and managing banana yields. And while the methods did increase output, Nsimadala says it had unintended consequences.
“The project, which was supposed to be a blessing to the communities, became a problem because there was overproduction, but the prices decreased. So, instead of getting money from bananas, a bunch went as low as 500 Uganda Shillings, this is something like a quarter of a dollar,” Nsimadala explains. “So it went so low, to that level, and people were instead chopping the bananas and giving them to animals. So they became of no use.”
Her story is common across Africa, where harvested food crops are often lost because the cost of transporting them to markets is more expensive than letting them rot in place. Meanwhile, people who need food the most don’t have money to buy it.
Nana Osei-Bonsu, CEO of Private Enterprise Federation, Ghana, says this aggravates food insecurity on the continent.
“[There’s] $4 billion (USD) equivalent of food losses in a year in the continent and if you can conceptualize what four billion can do to alleviate poverty in our various countries, then you can understand the waste and the economic deprivation that food loss is causing the continent,” Osei-Bonsu points out. “Apart from food losses, there is food waste, they are two different things. The food waste is the cooked food that we don’t use. At the end of the day, they are not apportioned to people who need it, and we have about 800 million in the world going hungry every day and we have excesses of food that are going to waste.”
The causes of food loss and food waste in Africa are closely linked to lack of infrastructure, affordable transportation, and even harvesting techniques, says Nana Osei Bonsu: “Let me give you an example: tomatoes. People harvest them when they are red. When they are red and you pick them, they don’t even last 36 hours! But if you pick them green, they give you seven days or more. So, there are a lot of factors that contribute to this magnitude of losses.”
The inefficiency of moving food stocks to hungry mouths can be an even bigger problem in 50 years, when Africa’s population is expected to double.
“If the world’s population doubles, what should we double then?” asks Moussa Seck, chairman of the Pan African Agribusiness and Agro Industry Consortium. “It’s not cars. It’s not highways. It’s mostly food. But the problem is, mankind has made ten thousand years in order to count today seven billion tons of food. Ten thousand years of constant progress. And when the world population doubles in 50 years, we have to double these seven billion tons.”
African countries, through the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, say they are committed to eliminating hunger and cutting extreme poverty in half by 2025. How this will be achieved, according to Seck, is not only through production, but more importantly, by avoiding the loss and waste of food already produced.
Elizabeth Nsimadala and other farming women in Uganda could offer significant lessons in this regard. The bananas that used to be thrown away are now fetching them significant returns on their investment, thanks to value addition. In other words, processing the crop into another, more novel product with a longer shelf life.
“We were trained in banana wine production. We started on a small scale, but for any new innovation that comes, it takes some time for people to embrace it. But later on, our mindset kept on changing,” Nsimadala says. “When I do a comparison between the prices, it’s actually more than a hundred percent. A bunch that can go for $10, once processed, you can be able to make a net profit of $200 (USD), which is unbelievable to many. To me it’s a reality because I am doing it. We are doing it and we are getting the results.”
Nsimadala’s success has been hailed as a best practice by the African Union, but continues to be an exception to the rule. In the short term however, Bonsu recommends that African governments set up agencies to buy and store food in peak season, for eventual redistribution during lean periods.
The World Bank Group has inaugurated a multimillion climate innovation centre to support Ghana’s growth strategy to help more than 100 local clean technology businesses develop and commercialise innovative solutions to mitigate effects of climate.
The launch of the first technology hub in the country on Tuesday came barely four months after the World Bank approved a financial package of $17.2 million to fund the Ghana Climate Innovation Centre located at Ashesi University College in Berekusu in the Eastern region.
The centre will support the country’s climate change policy to help over 300,000 Ghanaians increase resilience to climate change in the next 10 years.
It is also expected to support local clean technology ventures to mitigate 660,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide, equivalent to the emissions of almost 140,000 cars in a year, World Bank said, and it will contribute to the production of over 260 million kWh of clean energy in the West African country.
Environmental scientists warn that if global temperatures rise by more than two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, the consequences will be severe and, in some cases, irreversible and projected glaciers will continue to shrink, heat waves will be more frequent and the oceans will get warmer and more acidic.
UN special envoy on climate change and former Ghanaian president, John Kufuor, said at the launch that emerging countries like Ghana would be unable to mitigate climate change effects unless they joined global forces.
“I believe global action is crucial to fight the impact of climate change, I believe science and technology should be deployed at every stage, the effort must be global, this is what the world must be awakened to,” he said.
“If we are seeking green solutions to fight the impact, which is global, I believe public policy, donor community support, as well as private ventures should share the risk of investment to transition from fossil fuels to green energy.”
Kufuor urged donors to fulfil their pledges in terms of financial commitments and developed nations to extend technology to back developing countries in Africa’s fight against climate change.
“Africans cannot deal with the problem without global partnership,” he stressed, “we need the global community, the promises and pledges have been there for some time, unfortunately the pledgers have not fulfilled their pledges in terms of financial support, in terms of technological extension.
“No country is an island now, unless the world moves together to do something by 2020 or 2030 to put temperatures under two degrees Celsius, it will be like all of us being on the same boat, we either sail together or we sink together.”
Henry Kerali, World Bank country director for Ghana said, in a speech read on his behalf: “The Ghana CIC solidifies the role of the private sector in helping Ghana manage the effects of climate change.
“By enabling entrepreneurs and green innovators to test and scale new clean technologies, home grown business solutions can help the country build climate resilience, while also contributing to job creation and economic development.”
According to the World Bank report, Economics of Adaptation to Climate Change, without a proper green growth strategy, Ghana’s agricultural gross domestic product is projected to decline by 3 per cent to eight per cent by the middle of the century.
Coastal erosion from rising sea levels could result in significant loss of land and forced migration, while extreme weather events could further strain the country’s infrastructure.
To reduce the long-term cost of climate change and create opportunities for sustainable growth, the bank said the GCIC will provide local companies with the knowledge and resources they need to develop prototypes and market innovative clean technologies in sectors like climate-smart agriculture, waste water treatment, and off-grid renewable energy.
The services offered by the centre will include sea financing, policy interventions, and market connections, as well as technical and business training.
Similar centres have been established in the Caribbean, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morroco, South Africa and Vietnam.