Massive investments in the agricultural sector could lead to an increase in agriculture green house gas emissions by 2 per cent, experts have said.
Most African countries are at a critical point where they must produce an extra 70 per cent of food by 2050 in order to take care of increased demand for food for more than a billion people the continent is projected to have in the same period.
Speaking at the biennial conference on agricultural research and extension in Kigali last week, Timothy D. Searchinger, an associate research scholar at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, said more agricultural output will increase agricultural green house gas emissions in Africa from 13 per cent to 15 per cent by 2050.
This will have a catastrophic impact on the continent’s climate that will increase the rate of global warming on the continent.
“Producing more food for more than 2.5 billion Africans will require clearing more forests and wetlands for both food and livestock production; more animals will have to be kept to handle the high demand of milk and beef. This will have catastrophic consequences on continent’s climate by 2050,” he said.
According to Environmental Think tank and World Bank report 2013, Africa’s population is projected to increase from 900 million people to 2.5 billion by 2050.
Rwanda’s population is projected at 25million people by 2050; this according to Kelly Valerie a professor on food economics and Agricultural resources at Michigan State University poses a great challenge to African countries which are the most victims of global warming. “The challenge is how do you produce 70 per cent more food while reducing on agriculture green house gas emissions?”
Reduction in food
Despite Africa being the least contributor of carbon dioxide, Southern Africa and East Africa are set to lose more than 30 per cent of maize crop production by 2030 if green house gas emissions are not reduced tremendously.
The experts suggested the need for a reduction in food wastage through improved harvesting mechanisms and storage facilities if green gas emissions are to be reduced.
Africa has a highest food wastage ratio compared to the rest of the world.
And most losses occur at the harvesting and storage periods.
“Harvesting foods better while storing it better will reduce the demand of food by 20 per cent percent consequently reducing on the pressure put on virgin land,” Searchinger advised.
Experts also noted educating girls and providing family planning services will help control population growth rate.
“While the rest of the world has reduced their fertility rate by almost 2 per cent, African’s fertility rates continue to sky rocket leaving it with yield gaps of 350 per cent,” Searchinger noted.
He added that the gaps leave the continent with no choice but to clear more forests for agriculture thereby risking the continent to global warming.
Agnes Kalibata, the Agriculture minister acknowledged the need to protect the environment. “Government has a policy on environment protection, we are also aware of the dangers global warming causes to our farmer, therefore protecting the environment is our first priority if we are to get good agricultural results.”
Kalibata, however, blamed researchers for not properly linking their research with farmers.
“You need to take your research to local farmers and see whether it holds water; they are the biggest stake holders.”