Why Support Africa's Small Farmers?
As Africa’s farmers work to adapt to climate change, global leaders must do their part by keeping – and extending – the promises they made at COP26. Increased investment in sustainable agriculture, including research and development, is critical to protect vulnerable people from hunger and ensure food security for all.
NKAWIE-TOASE, GHANA/AUBURN, ALABAMA – At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) last November, world leaders pledged billions of dollars to sustainable farming and agricultural research. This commitment comes at a critical time. Already, climate change is wrecking harvests around the world, and global hunger is on the rise.
The stakes are especially high for Africa’s small farmers, who work their fields by hand and are at the mercy of the elements. The predictable weather patterns these farmers depended on in the past have disappeared. This year, late rains in Ghana and neighboring West African countries delayed planting. Then, unusually heavy rainfall at the end of the growing season hampered the harvest. In East Africa, swarms of locusts, fostered by hotter, wetter conditions, devoured a vast expanse of crops.
Africa’s farmers relied on the world leaders’ meeting at COP26 to take steps that might mitigate some of the worst effects of the climate crisis. While the commitments made in Glasgow set the stage for meaningful action, pledges to reduce greenhouse-gas (GHG) emissions likely fell short of what is needed to limit global warming to 1.5° Celsius, relative to pre-industrial levels.