Sub-Saharan Africa

  • Tech access key to smallholders tackling climate change

    Gilbert Nakweya

    14/11/16
[NAIROBI] The effects of climate change on agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa are now real; we have increased cases of flood and prolonged droughts that destroy crops.
 
Smallholder farmers, especially those in rural areas, are the most affected, with some experiencing total loss on their farms. These farmers still rely on traditional methods of predicting weather, which in most cases, fails miserably. For instance, in the past, one could confidently predict and expect short rains in Kenya between September and December. Today, this is no longer the case.

Innovations such as new seed varieties that can withstand droughts are available but cannot be accessed by smallholder farmers in drought-stricken northern Kenya.

Gilbert Nakweya

 
The devastating impact of climate change is increasingly becoming a matter of concern, leading to debates globally on how to combat climate change.
 
This was the case at the 5th congress of the Seed Trade Association of Kenya where scientists, seed traders, government and the private sector gathered to share key developments and innovations that help smallholder farmers mitigate against climate change.
 
In fact, the conference that was held in Kenya last week (8-9 November) had the objective of discussing the use of quality seeds to tackle climate change and improve agricultural productivity.
 
Listened to the delegates, it was worrying that many farmers in rural areas still have no or limited access to agricultural innovations and technologies that could help them tackle the effects of climate change. For example, innovations such as new seed varieties that can withstand droughts are available but cannot be accessed by smallholder farmers in drought-stricken northern Kenya.
 
One of the farmers revealed to me that some of the technologies are expensive for smallholders to afford. He added that in some cases, they do not know where to get the seeds suitable for their climatic zones. The farmer, who hails from Busia county of western Kenya, added that increased sensitisation could help smallholder farmers access agricultural technologies and innovations to tackle climate change. For Sub-Saharan Africa to realise its development agenda and global blueprints such as the UN’s Agenda 2030 on sustainable development, it is prudent that the agricultural sector is transformed.
 
It is time that we put in place systems that ensure smallholder farmers access and use agricultural technologies to help transform Africa’s agricultural sector.
 
This piece was produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa English desk.