FARMERS can protect their agriculture from the deleterious effects of climate change through Ecosystem-based Adaptation (EbA) techniques that would ensure food and nutritional security, livelihood security and enhanced community climate resilience, Agriculture Minister Given Lubinda has said.
Mr Lubinda said a climate-proof agriculture sector based on EbA techniques that work with nature and was augmented by farm productivity would unlock income opportunities in the agro-value chain.
In a speech read on his behalf by his deputy Maxas Ngónga, Mr Lubinda said agriculture has the potentially ensure inclusive and sustainable growth in the country if its value chain was holistically optimised.
He said agriculture could also create jobs for many of the unemployed 4 million plus youth, while simultaneously feeding the nation and the continent.
Mr Lubinda advised that the culture of taking food and livelihood security in stand-alone initiatives and policies needed re-shaping and cautioned against the dangers of deforestation which he said had remained a major concern in the country.
“My colleagues and I in the ministry are very proud to state that our Zambia Agricultural Institute (ZARI), working with local and international partners under the leadership of United Nations Environmental Programme has taken the initiative to invigorate and promote EbA synergisms across sectors in Zambia,” Mr Lubinda said.
Mr Lubinda said this during the launch of the Ecosystem Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA), held at Mulungushi International Conference Centre in Lusaka yesterday.
“Government recognises that Zambia is the first country in Africa to get to this stage with EBAFOSA as the country has scored first in Africa by taking the lead in the formation of a national branch amid the 35 countries that have been trying to launch,” he said.
And EBAFOSA Zambia president Dr Frank Kayula said the organisation would help reduce the production cost of products for small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) especially those in rural areas. “SMEs are spending 60-70 percent on nutrition in their products and the production cost is too high. We will try to reduce it,” he said.
Dr Kayula added that his organisation would provide employment especially to the youth and women who are the main targets. United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Africa Regional climate change coordinator Dr Richard Munang said exacerbating all these challenges is climate change which may reverse all developmental gains and stifle further progress according to the 2015 Africa Adaptation Gap report.
“In addition it is disproportionately afflicting the poor, and significantly reducing productivity in Africa’s agricultural sector by up to 40 % in key staples resulting in a 25 – 90% increase in incidences of undernourishment as well as putting 50% of the continent’s population at risk of undernourishment,” he said.
Dr. Munang said the changing climate is adding one more dimension to the many problems Zambia is currently facing, the reason why it is imperative to have a practical strategy to ensure achievement of inclusive sustainable economic growth, not only for Zambia, but for Africa as a whole.
He said an increasing probability of harvest failure cascading into food and nutrition deficiencies would ultimately result in even higher poverty levels in the country.
“Without investing effort and money in sustainable food security systems, hungry Africa won’t be able to rise for real,” he said.