Agriculture Business Climate Community Development Food

COMESA promotes climate-smart agriculture best practices in the region

Mr. Lwembe Mwale, the COMESA Project Officer for Climate Change

The Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) is implementing 5 Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA) pilot projects in the Kingdom of Eswatini, Madagascar, Seychelles, Uganda, and Zimbabwe with funding from the European Union (EU) under the Intra-ACP (Organisation of Africa, Caribbean, and Pacific Group of States) and the Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) programme.

Speaking to Spiked online Media during a regional CSA dissemination meeting in Harare today, Mr. Lwembe Mwale, the COMESA Project Officer for Climate Change said initial efforts to promote CSA in COMESA started in 2009 with a focus on sensitisation and awareness creation, study tours, and exchange visits, policy dialogues, and scientific conferences.

“Member States were supported to establish national CSA Task Forces. New CSA coordination platforms were established in Botswana, Ethiopia, and Zambia, while sub-national CSA coordination platforms were set up in Madagascar, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. The existing regional CSA platform for southern Africa (CARWG) was also strengthened. A regional platform for coordinating CSA was established for the eastern Africa region. Baseline studies were conducted to determine the scope and spread of CSA practices and obstacles preventing the widespread adoption of CSA by smallholder farmers in the Member States,” Mr. Mwale said.

Member States were supported to climate-proof their agriculture development and investment plans and establish CSA demonstrations and pilots. The most promising pilots from five countries were selected and developed into detailed projects backed by the governments and other partners to provide direct support to farmers and communities to adopt CSA and other complementary practices.

“All five pilots had unique features and registered notable successes in the first phase (2014-2016). The results of the first phase pilots were sufficiently positive to enable the COMESA Secretariat to secure a follow-on grant from the European Union to upscale the five pilots and increase the coverage area and the number of beneficiaries. The COMESA climate-smart agriculture interventions contribute to the Malabo Declaration to have 25 million farmers on the African continent practicing Climate Smart Agriculture by 2025. To fully realize impact at scale, there is a need to share experiences and best practices from CSA in the COMESA Region. It is against such a background that COMESA through its Climate Change Programme is convening this regional dissemination meeting from 12-13 December 2022 to share knowledge, experiences, challenges, and opportunities for CSA in the region,” Mr. Mwale said.

Zimbabwe is set to increase food self-sufficiency from 45 percent to 90 percent by 2025 in line with the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Growth and Transformation for shared prosperity and improved livelihoods.

Speaking during the COMESA climate-smart agriculture best practices meeting in Harare today, Mr. Hillary Mugiyo a representative from the Ministry of Land, Agriculture, Water, Fisheries and Rural Development said that the second republic has managed to mobilize farmers to plant drought-resistant crops that can withstand the impacts of climate change through farmer fields schools like the Pfumvudza/Intwasa scheme.

Mr. Hillary Mugiyo

The Malabo declaration was adopted in 2014 by the African Union (AU) member states. This Declaration provides direction to transform the agricultural sector in Africa for the period 2015-2025 within the wider framework of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). It is an essential document that assists AU member states to achieve agriculture-led growth and end poverty and hunger.

“The agricultural sector is responsible for feeding the nation and providing livelihoods to 67% of the country’s population in rural areas. There are a number of targets which include improving crop and livestock productivity and raising the gross agriculture production value to US$8.2 billion; achieving self-sufficiency for local human and industrial consumption in all strategic agriculture commodities and generating a surplus for exports; treble agriculture trade through improved market access and competitiveness of agriculture commodities on the domestic and export markets through quality produce and value addition and to raise per capita income for farmers to the upper-middle-income level from US$4 000 –12 000.

“There is also a need to ensure that the existing agricultural resource base is maintained and improved, including restoration of soil health, and achieve sustainable agricultural intensification. The overall goals are informed by Vision 2030, and the Malabo Declaration of 2014,” said Mr. Mugiyo.

Zimbabwean farmers have the potential to restore the country to its breadbasket status in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and President Emmerson Mnangagwa has vowed to propel the country to reclaim Africa’s Breadbasket crown by implementing a series of adjustments in the country’s agriculture systems.

“In agriculture, fundamental to the projected economic growth is resolving the security of land tenure and adoption of climate-smart agriculture strategies. The NDS1 facilitates access to affordable agricultural financing through various strategies including establishing a Land Bank, strengthening the use of PPPs, and reviewing the contract farming and agricultural marketing frameworks to cover all crops and livestock,” he said.

About the author

Byron Adonis Mutingwende