No doubt, many countries in Africa have made great strides when it comes to curbing hunger over the past few years. However, the current climate crisis is fueling food insecurity and setting the continent several years back.
Climate change is hitting hard on various sectors in Africa, with the agriculture/food production sector being the worst hit.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), weather events such as increased flooding, drought, high temperatures, and shifts in the timing and amount of rainfall, are directly impacting crops and livestock thereby exacerbating hunger and food insecurity.
In addition, increased soil erosion caused by frequent storms as well as increased pest and disease pressure on crops and livestock due to warmer temperatures is further plunging the continent into a chronic food crisis. This is jeopardizing lives and livelihoods.
Already, the continent has a population of about 1.2 billion that is estimated to grow to about 4 billion by the end of the century.
When this is factored in with 70% of the population’s direct reliance on the land for their livelihoods, one will see that there is an impending danger of a decrease in the amount of usable land. Meanwhile, desertification is already spreading due to global warming and vast areas of arable land drying up according to reports from the United Nations.
What about conflicts and unrest? Food insecurity, apart from famine, is causing many inhabitants to flee their homes in search of usable land and this is triggering conflicts over territory.
Tackling food insecurity
To tackle food insecurity in the climate crisis, Africa needs to look inward.
What are those practices that have proven to be better solutions to reviving dry and overgrazed lands? Therein lies the answers.
Climate-smart agricultural practices such as crop, livestock, forests, and fisheries management in a way that factors in the climate as well as climate adaptation policies are important in tackling food insecurity.
Farmers can employ practices that can replenish degraded soils such as controlling when and for how long herds can graze, crop rotation, adding clay or organic material to soils to improve drainage and their water retention capacity, spreading new types of grass seeds, and using soil ameliorant to improve the physical condition of the soil and help plants grow.
Another solution is encouraging everyone to become farmers. Growing what we eat, no matter how little it is, provides a setting for food security irrespective of climate or economic conditions.
Finally, we need to eliminate food waste. For a continent facing a food crisis, you’d be surprised at the amount of food that is being wasted especially during production.
Most times, harvests go bad due to factors such as poor storage, underutilized or unprocessed harvests, farmers’ inability to get their commodities to market in time, etc.
Farmers’ access to proper storage facilities will go a long way in mitigating food waste and by extension lead to less strain on the land and resources. Also, we all have a part to play. You can begin by curbing food waste in your home.