May 12, 2015 Accra
The Director of the United Nations University Institute for Natural Resources in Africa (UNU-INRA), Dr. Elias T. Ayuk has called on African governments and other stakeholders in the agricultural value chain to take steps to mitigate climate change impact on food security in Africa. According to Dr. Ayuk, evidence from UNU-INRA’s project for ECOWAS and other reports suggest that climate impact may be severe, but some countries could see increases in crop production, for instance, in maize, while a majority are very likely to become net importers of food if pragmatic measures are not taken, hence the need to allocate more resources to lessen the potential effects on food security. He made the suggestion during a courtesy call on the South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Her Excellency, Ms Lulama Xingwana, in Accra.
The UNU-INRA Director suggested that one possible way of achieving food security in countries that are likely to be impacted negatively by climatic variations is to channel a greater portion of resources being spent on food imports to improve agriculture. Dr Ayuk explained that investment in rural infrastructure such as roads, storage and processing facilities, communications systems and reliable supply networks for farmers, could encourage large scale agricultural production for local consumption and for export. He observed that access to agricultural machinery including tractors usually seems to be a major challenge for most rural farmers, and appealed to stakeholders to help improve the situation through investment.
“Africa would need to invest more in agriculture to adapt to climate change impact on food production. We need commitment to implement agricultural policies and increase financial support to rural farmers to purchase farm inputs in order to reduce poverty on the continent”, urged Dr. Ayuk.
He also stressed on the need to improve trade infrastructure and reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers at some corridors to improve intra-African trade. Touching on the issue of oil price fluctuations, Dr Ayuk advised governments in Africa to explore the creation of sovereign wealth funds that can be invested and whose proceeds could be used to buffer falling prices.
The South African High Commissioner to Ghana, H.E. Ms Xingwana on the other hand, reiterated the need for African countries to learn from other developing countries in order to address the challenge of high food imports and other issues such as wastewater and poor sanitation, which are also pertinent in Africa.
As part of the visit, UNU-INRA presented key publications including policy briefs on natural resources management issues to the High Commission. The publications are to help inform natural resources management policies for sustainable development.