Global warming threatens food security

Friday, September 2, 2011
Nthambeleni Gabara

Pretoria - The food security threat posed by climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing the African continent, says Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson. 

"Africa has the responsibility to feed the world as well as its own African people, but we are faced with enormous climate change constraints such as severe drought, floods dreadful diseases.

"Climate change is a serious threat to the agricultural field in the African continent," Joemat-Pettersson told BuaNews at a breakfast briefing today with African ambassadors to solicit support for the planned meeting on climate-smart agriculture. 

The objective of the African Ministerial Conference on Climate-smart Agriculture is to share perspective amongst the leadership, explore challenges and grasp new opportunities for agriculture in Africa. 

Themed "Climate-Smart Agriculture Africa: A call to Action", the conference is part of the build up to the upcoming 17th Conference of the Parties (COP 17) of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), scheduled for November and December in Durban. 

"As African ministers responsible for agriculture, we want to go to the COP 17 conference with one idea of pushing for climate-smart agriculture. 

"Speaking in one voice on agriculture as African ministers, food security, adaptation and mitigation will be our key focus of the new concept 'climate-smart agriculture' at the COP 17 conference," she said. 

Joemat-Pettersson said the two-day African ministerial conference in Gauteng will be held on September 13 -14. She hoped agriculture ministers from the Horn of Africa could be part of the meeting. 

Global warming and the rise of sea levels could threaten fisheries and shrimp production in the African continent.

DRC ambassador to South Africa, Bene M'Poko, said developed countries who are mainly the cause of climate change should commit to an absolute approach to curb the release of greenhouse gases at the COP 17 conference.

"These developed countries are also responsible for deforestation in the African continent in a number of ways and I am of the view that as Africans, we deserve to be compensated by those countries. 

"Cancun gave us hope, but it was the developed countries who once again failed to show a stronger commitment to actually reduce greenhouse gases to avoid dangerous climate change. So this time, we are of the view that [we should] become more active and ... become the leaders of this discussion, but to follow protocol as well," he said. 

M'Poko praised Joemat-Pettersson for coming up with the idea of getting African ministers together ahead of COP 17. 

"This is a very good initiative and it is my view that the 'one voice' of African ministers at COP 17 will make international bodies and donors use research outputs to plan for and support adaptation by African people," he said. - BuaNews