How to support inclusive climate-smart agricultural growth in Africa

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How to support inclusive climate-smart agricultural growth in Africa How to support inclusive climate-smart agricultural growth in Africa

The climate change crisis is impacting food production systems in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) and transforming food insecurity into a humanitarian crisis.  With 660 million people risking starvation by 2030, the world is in a questionable state to meet SDG2 by 2030.

The climate crisis has resulted in low agricultural productivity in SSA countries and pushed many more to starvation. Moreover, unpredictable and unavailable markets pose additional challenges to farmers, mainly small-scale rural farmers who rely on markets to sell their produce. These challenges are amplified for ethnic minorities. They are more likely to lack access to markets and inputs to increase agricultural productivity and earn additional income to break out of the poverty trap. With the historical, sometimes colonial era, policies affecting them today, ethnic minorities are likely to face multiple exclusions. 

Given the challenges of feeding a numerous population in the face of a worsening climate crisis, the solution lies in boosting food production and access to food  through a three-pronged approach. The key points are: implementing an energy-water-food system, sustainable cold chains and storage facilities, strengthening access to markets, and providing inclusion for minorities.

Implementing energy-water-food systems should support the mechanisation of farming through sustainable energy sources such as solar energy. Farmers should be given access to solar-powered irrigation facilities at highly subsidised costs and charged a token for using the service so the systems can pay for themselves over time. The energy-water-food systems should also be designed to incorporate sustainable practices like syntropic farming, which conserves the soil, water, and biodiversity.  Additionally, knowledge of how to run these systems should be transferred to the farmers to create a true sense of ownership. Farmers could be trained by others, with the lessons reinforced through simple technologies like targeted SMS messaging and using a trainer-of-trainers approach. By doing this, the current situation where fluctuating rainfall patterns impact yields could be significantly reversed. 

To conserve the increased yields, sustainable cold chain systems adaptable to off-grid communities should be developed, curbing post-harvest losses due to lack of storage facilities. These cold chain systems should be powered by renewable energy sources and generate their power from renewable sources. By promoting cold chain systems, post-harvest losses would drop and farmers’ incomes would increase. 

Access to markets is a significant factor to advance inclusive growth for rural communities and promote food security.  As a matter of urgency, governments should provide the requisite infrastructure for transporting farmers' produce to market centres. In many areas where food is grown, transport infrastructure is dilapidated and its restoration is forgotten in the allocation of state resources. Governments should keep in mind that if food produced is not made available to consumers and sold, its purpose is wasted. Market access should also incorporate modern technologies that provide direct access to consumers and market insights for farmers and rural households. Farmers are cheated by not being given access to fair pricing due to their lack of market insights and inability to access consumers directly. Policymakers should therefore create public-private partnerships to provide data and technology-driven solutions that solve the challenge of access to the market.

Furthermore, involving ethnic minorities in community-driven solutions should be a key priority in promoting economic growth. Bringing the voices of minority groups and young people to the fore, ensuring they are represented across the entire food value chain and in decision-making while emphasizing gender sensitivity, will enable governments to benefit from the expertise of all in enhancing agriculture-driven growth. Governments should encourage communities to undertake financial inclusion-enhancing schemes such as cooperative farming, allowing everyone access to land and resources needed to run a farm, and village saving associations focussed on improving access to finance. Rotating savings and credit associations, known as chama in Swahili or metshelo in Setswana, should be given a boost by policymakers to become credible solutions for decentralised agricultural financing.

Although the challenge of feeding a growing population is persistent, climate-smart agriculture in Africa provides a historic chance to achieve zero hunger (SDG2).  The solution lies in implementing energy-water-food systems, strengthening market access for farmers, and providing food systems inclusive of young people, women, and ethnic minorities. We hope this integrated approach to food security and inclusive growth, which we call CaCo, will become the norm. This is our call to action!


Abednego Brandy Opey

Ghana delegate to the World Bank Group Youth Summit 2022

Azeez Tobi Abubakar

Nigeria delegate to the World Bank Group Youth Summit 2022

Botho Bahumi Motlhanka

Botswana delegate to the World Bank Group Youth Summit 2022

Faisal Adukke Shuaib

Nigeria delegate to the World Bank Group Youth Summit 2022

Judy Gitahi

Kenya delegate to the World Bank Group Youth Summit 2022

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