In eight African countries, the crops of essential food products in some areas could suffer one decrease by up to 80 percent by 2050 if temperatures continue to rise due to climate change.
This is the alarm launched by a report by the United Nations International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), which underlines the “catastrophic impact” that it could generate on poverty and on the availability of food, “unless we proceed to channel urgently funding aimed at helping vulnerable farmers to adapt farming methods and products grown to cope with change “.
Ifad warns that COP26 will fail to have a lasting impact if world leaders continue to prioritize mitigation, without investing in climate adaptation.
The report ‘What can smallholder farmers grow in a warmer world? Climate change and future crop adequacy in East and Southern Africa ‘shows that, unless changes in agricultural practices or global policies are introduced, the combination of erratic weather events, drier environmental conditions and a 2 degrees Celsius increase in Temperatures will have a devastating impact on the harvests of both staple food and income crops of smallholder farmers in various regions of Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. For example, assuming the worst-case scenario, by 2050 the annual maize production per household in Angola’s Namibe province could decrease by 77 percent by 2050.
At the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) to be held next week in Glasgow, the focus will be on the commitment – not respected – made six years ago by richer countries to mobilize $ 100 billion a year by 2020 to finance adaptation to climate change in least developed countries.
Even if this goal were achieved, it would be insufficient. The costs of adaptation to climate change are projected to reach between 140 and 300 billion dollars a year in developing countries alone by 2030. Current financial flows aimed at tackling climate change are mainly focused on mitigation of global warming. For every $ 18 spent on mitigation, only $ 1 is spent on climate change adaptation.
“Mitigation and adaptation are like the two wings of a bird, we cannot continue to fly with one wing,” explains Dr Jyotsna Puri, associate vice president of Ifad’s Strategy and Knowledge Department, who produced the report. “While mitigation efforts are essential, they will not yield results for two to three decades. We need to invest, urgently, in adapting to climate change, so that smallholder farmers, such as those considered in this study, can continue to produce the crops they rely on to make a living and to feed their nations. ”
Although no country is immune to the impact of climate change – the report insists – small farmers in developing countries are the most vulnerable and least equipped to deal with this situation. They produce a third of the food consumed in the world, and up to 80 percent in some regions of Africa and Asia, but receive less than 2 percent of the funds invested globally to combat climate change.
Insufficient funding for climate change adaptation will have knock-on effects around the world. Decreasing harvests will lead to higher food prices, less food availability and a consequent increase in hunger and poverty. This could increase migration, conflict and instability. In 2020, one in ten people in the world suffered from hunger, while in Africa the proportion rose to one in five.
“COP26 is a turning point for humanity,” said Puri. “We must not waste this opportunity to limit the rise in temperatures while helping farmers to develop their resilience to the effects of climate change. The very survival of rural agricultural communities depends on their ability to adapt “.
Ifad is the only multilateral development organization dedicated exclusively to eradicating hunger and poverty in rural areas and has pledged to set aside half of its resources to combat climate change for adaptation.
This year, it launched ASAP +, a climate finance mechanism, designed to be the largest fund dedicated to channeling climate resources to smallholder farmers, to help them adapt to climate change and fight hunger and malnutrition.