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Climate Change and Agriculture in Africa
September 23, 2015

David Michael Terungwa of the African Green Movement provided the guest blog post below. Learn more about the African Green Movement at www.gifsep.org.

Group of men and women in matching t-shirts belonging "African Green Movement" stand together.
Members of the GIFSEP Nigeria chapter stand with an African Green Movement banner after an Executive Meeting.

Agriculture is the primary medium through which climate change will impact people, ecosystems and economies. According to the Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), this is no longer a potential threat but a conclusive, inevitable reality. Rainfall is generally expected to become more variable; floods are expected to become more common; droughts are expected to be more intense and last longer, while sea-levels are expected to rise. The net effect of all these impacts is reduced food. Understanding the dynamics of current variability and future climate change as they affect food supply and demand across all sectors and enhancing the capacity to respond is crucial. Smart and sustainable Agriculture has become of urgent and of crucial importance. For society to progress towards sustainable development, education must engage the youth. However, most youths in Africa see agriculture as a dirty man’s job, forgetting that Agriculture remains the major source of employment in Africa.

Farmers in Africa are getting older – much older. Retirement is increasingly a mirage for the thousands of farmers who continue working into their late 70s and even into their mid-80s. Farmers are working significantly longer hours compared to the rest of the workforce. Rates of depression and suicide among farmers and agricultural workers are more than double the average for the non-agricultural workforce.

The reality is that we African youths can’t spend our way out of hunger, poverty and unemployment in Africa. But hard work from everyone can do wonders. And it has be hard work with our hands, not just our brains.

One of the ways to mitigate the effects of climate change is Smart Agriculture.

Here is an example of Smart Agriculture: Banana stems hold water for long period of time. Take advantage of this by planting short-rooted stems in banana stems. This is done by making small holes at the stem with a knife or machete and adding a little soil. This allows the plant to grow even during the dry season without irrigation and helps minimize resources and space.

Like our ancestors, farmers have always grown their crops in soil. The threat of food insecurity from climate change makes it necessary to consider alternatives. Hydroponics is a new way of planting that does not use soil. Plants can grow in other media such as gravel, sand, coconut fiber.

Banana stems are usually thrown away after the fruit is removed, whereas processed banana stems have many uses. Banana stems are a very good medium for vegetable gardening and planting mushrooms. Banana stems contain a lot of starch that can act as a plant nutrient. Banana trees also have important compounds such as anthraquinone, saponins, and flavonoids that both benefit humans and help plants absorb nutrients.

Nettie Wiebe once said “I often say to people, what happens in the food system is of no concern to you if you’re never going to eat again. But if you’re intending to have breakfast, lunch or dinner, what happens to small-scale farmers, what happens to seeds, what happens to water, matters to you, because your lunch depends on it.”

Man stands in cornfield.
David Michael Terungwa at the GIFSEP Farm in Abuja, Nigeria. (Photo courtesy Terungwa)

This guest blog was adapted from a post on the YALI Network face2face Facebook Group.

About David Michael Terungwa: I am a Mentor with the Climate Reality Project and the President of GIFSEP (African Green Movement). I am a First class graduate of Soil and Water Conservation Engineering. I also hold a Post Graduate Certificate in Renewable Energy. Changing the world around me through teaching agricultural and Environmental sustainability is my strongest desire.

About African Green Movement: an initiative for food security and ecosystem preservation, with members from Nigeria, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya. Learn more at www.gifsep.org and www.facebook.com/africangreenmovement.

The views and opinions expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the YALI Network or the U.S. government.