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Pitch

Use adaptation technologies to strengthen agricultural production in the face of uncertain future climate change scenarios in Africa.


Description

Summary

Agriculture provide the livelihood for 70% to 80% of the African population, and account for 30% of GDP and 40% of export revenue in Sub-Saharan Africa. In Sub-Saharan Africa agriculture employs 60% to 90% of the total labor force.

Changes in temperature, rainfall, and variability, and extension of drought periods in some regions, is already having severe implications for agriculture. Climate change will likely reduce the length of the growing season and force large regions of marginal agriculture out of production. Assessments based on various climate models and Special Report on Emissions Scenarios estimate that by 2100, parts of the Sahara are likely to be the most vulnerable, showing probable agricultural losses of 2% to 7% of GDP.  Agricultural losses caused by climate change in western and central Africa are expected to range from 2% to 4% GDP, and losses of 0.4 % to 1.3% of GDP are predicted for northern and southern Africa 

For effective adaptation to climate change in the agricultural sector of Africa, a suite of adaptation technological tools should be considered. In a number of ways, these adaptation technologies are important because they can improve input efficiency, increase access to substitutes and can even reduce the sensitivity of a system to changes in climate e.g. existing or new crop varieties with better tolerance to heat can be used instead of varieties that are more susceptible to heat.


Category of the action

Mitigation/Adaptation, Changing public attitudes about climate change


What actions do you propose?

Strengthen adaptation to flooding by practicing floating agriculture in African coastal zones (which consist of the west, central, east and Mediterranean coastal zones).  Floating agriculture involves planting crops on soil-less floating rafts. These rafts can be made of composted organic material, including water hyacinth, algae, waterwort, straw, and herbs. Crops grown via floating agriculture do not require irrigation or any chemical fertilizer and this will benefit African farmers as it reduces cost. Floating agriculture can raise livelihoods and increase food security for the poor in areas where there is no access to land or production inputs. And it integrates sustainably with fish aquaculture.Although floating agriculture is emerging throughout the developing world, it has been historically prevalent in Bangladesh, where water hyacinth beds are common and all varieties of vegetables are grown (Islam and Atkins 2007). It is suitable for areas having plentiful water especially coastal and riverine areas and fresh water lakes e.g. coastal regions of Gambia, Senegal, Nigeria e.t.c. Because of the relatively low input necessary, floating agriculture could expand rapidly in appropriate settings. However, when introducing this technology to new areas, agricultural research and development agencies may need to carry out long-term follow-up to avoid low retention rates (Irfanullah 2013).

​Fogs should be harvested in coastal areas. Fogs have the potential to provide an alternative source of fresh water in dry regions and can be harvested through the use of simple and low-cost collection systems. According to the International Development Research Centre, the areas with the most potential to benefit from fog harvesting include the Atlantic coast of southern Africa (Angola, Namibia), South Africa, Kenya, and Sri Lanka. Fog harvesting technology consists of a single or double layer mesh net supported by two posts rising from the ground. The collectors are positioned on ridgelines perpendicular to prevailing wind and capture and collect water when fog sweeps through. The number and size of meshes chosen will depend on the local topography, demand for water, and availability of financial resources and materials.Fog harvesting has been implemented successfully in the mountainous coastal areas of Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, and Peru. Because of similar climatic and mountainous conditions, this technology also could be implemented in other regions of Africa and Asia. Atmospheric water is generally clean, does not contain harmful micro-organisms and is immediately suitable for irrigation purposes. In a number of cases, water collected with fog harvesting technology has been shown to meet World Health Organisation standards (UNISA, 2008; WaterAid, no date). The environmental impact of installing and maintaining the technology is minimal (WaterAid, no date).Given that fog harvesting is particularly suitable for mountainous areas where communities often live in remote condition, capital investment and other costs are generally found to be low in comparison with conventional sources of water supply (UNEP, 1997).It is generally recommended that the local population is involved in the construction of the project (UNEP, 1997; WaterAid, no date). Community participation helps to remove labour costs and also helps to ensure a sense of ownership by the community and a commitment to maintenance.

Develop Educational Technologies: High schools, colleges and universities can develop and implement the use of certain technologies to improve the knowledge and expertise of African students. These technologies will enable African students to be able to simulate and model the extent of the impact of climate change in their environment especially on farmlands and also to create solution consciousness in them. Engineering and technology education should be fostered as well; sophisticated climate laboratories needs to be built in African schools to enable hands-on practicality among students. This will enable students to be able to develop and build certain solutions to adapt to climate change in Africa. 

Organize Technological Exhibitions: African nations need to really focus on ways of drawing out creativity in their professionals and experts. Exhibitions of technologies to adapt to climate change should be organized yearly; these will create a drive amidst experts to research the more and develop gadgets and tools that will be useful for curbing the effect of climate change on agricultural production. Exhibitions can also be organized be universities most especially for their geoscience and engineering students.V

Various African agricultural research institutes need to improve on their researches on ways by which the adaptation of crops and animals to climate change can be improved. The research institutes can also collaborate with technological agencies as well. 

Each African nation should establish a technological agency whose drive will be to enhance the development of new ideas and agricultural technologies to adapt to the effect of climate change. The agency will also be responsible for the dissemination of the know-about and know-how information of existing technologies to farmers. They will also assist the farmers with the installation of those technologies on their various farms. 

The governments of African nations should also provide research grants and funds most especially for universities and individuals who are ready to develop better technologies for adapting to climate change. The government should also fund various agricultural projects and farmers too.


Who will take these actions?

The African nations themselves will take the action. 

African governments will be a major player in these actions.

Technological agencies

Technological exhibition committee

Agricultural research institutes

Educational institutes: high schools, colleges, universities.

The Farmers as well will be a key player.


Where will these actions be taken?

These actions will be taken in the developing and under-developed nations of Africa. 


What are other key benefits?

The key benefit of all these actions is to make Africa self-dependent. It will help Africa develop its own technologies not only to adapt to climate change in agricultural sector but also in other sectors as well e.g. health, transportation. These technologies will also be cost-effective as well since it is technology by Africans for Africans.


What are the proposal’s costs?

60-metre floating water hyacinth raft should cost about $23 to make and that about seven floating rafts are built for each hectare of wetland.

Small fog collectors cost between $ 75 and $ 200 each to build. Large 40-m² fog collectors cost between Large 40-m² fog collectors cost between $1,000 and $1,500 and can last for up to ten years.,000 and Large 40-m² fog collectors cost between $1,000 and $1,500 and can last for up to ten years.,500 and can last for up to ten years. A village project producing about  2,000  litres  of  water  per  day  will  cost  about  $  15,000.

A financial board can also be established to work with those who will take the proposed actions. The board will estimate the costs and also allocate funds. The various technological agencies and agricultural research institutes will also model their costs and provide their proposed cost to the financial board.


Time line

If all African nations cooperate, it should take a period of 1-15 years to fully implement all the proposed actions.


Related proposals


References

Ackermann, R. 2012. New Directions for Water Management in Indian Agriculture. Global  Journal of Emerging Market Economies4: 227. doi: 10.1177/097491011200400205.

Adger, W. N., S. Agrawala, M. M. Q. Mirza, C. Conde, K. O’Brien, J. Puhlin, R. Pulwarty, B. Smit, and K. Takahashi. 2007. Assessment of adaptation practices, options, constraints and capacity. In Climate Change  2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment  Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, ed. J. P. Palutikof, P. J. van der Linden, and C.  E. Hanson. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.