Climate Change and Small Holder Farmers in Africa

Erratic weather patterns as a result of the destructive effects of climate change pose a serious threat to the livelihoods of Africa’s smallholder farmers. In some sub-Saharan African countries, smallholder farmers contribute up to 90 percent of total food production and their farms represent 80 percent of all the firms in the region (ODI 2013). 70 percent of Africa’s population depends on rain-fed smallholder agriculture. With these figures, and by virtue of the fact that SSA contributes the least when it comes to global weather degradation, SSA needs to seek support from global leaders and come up with appropriate policies that are going to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Floods, droughts, storms and rising temperatures are severely affecting crop production and hitting smallholder farmers the hardest. They solely depend on their small farms for sustenance and feeding the rest of the region. Africa emits less than 3 percent of global greenhouse gases. However, the continent is disproportionately affected by the effects of greenhouse gases with temperatures projected to rise above the global average.

The effects of climate change on smallholders in Africa are exacerbated by lack of information due to poor connectivity, pests such as the fall army warm and diseases. Lack of or limited internet broadband makes these farmers more vulnerable due to lack of information. It is on this note, that innovative private sector companies are using unstructured supplementary service data (USSD) to keep farmers in the loop.

There are innovative ways the continent can use to slow down the process of global warming. Insurance and financial sectors can create innovative products to cover smallholders. Getting insurance covers and credit from microfinance institutions has proven to be an effective measure that cushions smallholder farmers from climate change shocks. Mitigation efforts will also have to include climate change adaptation efforts and investing in crops that are resilient to climate change. Drought resistant crops such as cassavas, pigeon peas and sweet potatoes will go a long way in supporting Africa’s food and nutrition needs.

The agricultural sector is the backbone of most sub-Saharan African economies. Agriculture accounts for more than 32 percent of Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This sector is vital to the region’s growth. Currently, Africa’s food market is worth $300 billion and it’s projected to grow to $1 trillion by 2030. Africa’s long term food security is pegged on Africa’s ability to act more and talk less and ensure mitigation efforts are bolstered and new products are innovated to curb the detrimental effects of climate change that are wreaking havoc on sub-Saharan African farms.


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