Monday, March 5, 2012

Tentative steps towards adaptation in central Africa

Badylon Kawanda Bakiman in via IPS: Governments and civil society organisations in Central Africa are slowly developing strategies in response to global warming. But specialists say the steps being taken seem hesitant in the face of emerging realities.

For some time now, smallholder farmers in many parts of Africa, but particularly in the Congo basin, have noted with alarm a slump in farm output that can be linked to climate change. "Before 2010, we would harvest, 1,200 kilogrammes per hectare of Kasaï 1 variety of maize, for example, or 1,000 kilos of the jl24 variety of groundnut. But beginning in 2010, yields per hectare fell to 600 kg for groundnuts and 700 kg for maize," says a worried Jean-Baptiste Mbwengele, president of a production and sales cooperative which groups forty smallholder organisations in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Mbwengele explains that the drop in production has been caused by disruptions to the agricultural calendar, due to both unusually heavy or prolonged rainy periods which make fungal, bacterial and viral plant diseases worse, and to drought - which he linked to the clearing of forests.

In partnership with the United Nations Development Programme, the DRC has initiated PANA-ASA - the Programme of Action for Adaptation and Food Security - designed to counter the threat that climate change poses to agricultural output and food security.

"This project will facilitate access to genetic material (improved seed) better adapted to the anticipated climatic conditions as well as the adoption of better practices for water management and soil fertility," explains Jean Ndembo, the national coordinator for PANA-ASA...

On the Congo River, shot by Julien Harneis, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

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