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WFP’s Chief Calls for Support for Those Most Vulnerable to Climate Change 0

Pemba (Zambia) – With El Nino affecting countries in southern Africa, threatening agricultural production due to a massive heat wave, the World Food Programme has urged the international community to support the upscaling of climate smart agricultural technology for resilience. During her recent visit to Zambia, one of the region’s foremost producers and exporters of maize and other crops, WFP Executive Director, Ertharin Cousin said the situation was a crisis that should not be allowed to degenerate into a disaster.

“We need to get organised and not let the situation, which is still at crisis level degenerate into a disaster. I believe there are opportunities that still exist through proven climate-smart techniques such as conservation agriculture,” said Cousin enthusiastically.

She said the time has come for the world to ‘walk the talk’ on climate change adaptation, as agreed at the COP 21 Climate Conference in Paris, last year.

“What I have seen here in Zambia has proved what I was saying at the climate summit that ‘the furthest behind are the most vulnerable’…therefore, making them resilient should be the ultimate goal for us all. And I am talking adaptation through climate smart technologies and crop diversity,” she said.

While the challenge ahead is huge, the WFP chief thinks the future should be defined by hope through what works to help smallholders be more resilient.

Highlighting the case of Bishop Mweene, a conservation farmer in Pemba district, whose maize crop survived a 22-day dry spell, Cousin believes climate smart agriculture could be a difference between success and failure in a climate changing world.

“If what we have seen at the lead farmer is anything to go by, then we have the solutions in our hands. All we need is to upscale these proven technologies to a wider community for them to reap the benefits as he is doing,” Cousin told IPS.

Farmer Mweene, 51, boasts of a modern house with iron sheets which he says has been made possible through increased productivity as a result of conservation agriculture —a climate smart agricultural technique that thrives on minimum tillage guaranteeing enough moisture for crops to survive severe dry spells.

Through the Conservation Agriculture Scaling Up (CASU) Project by FAO and the Ministry of Agriculture with financial support from the European Union, and now part of index insurance based rural resilience by WFP, Mweene has seen a positive change in his standard of living.

“Before this programme, my children were frequently sent back from school for nonpayment of school fees, but not anymore. Through increased productivity, I earn more money and I have even managed to build a brick house with iron sheets,” said Mweene, a proud father of 23 children, most of whom have left for urban areas in search of economic opportunities.

Southern Province Agricultural Coordinator, Maxwell Choombe says the introduction of insurance for smallholders could hold the key for young people’s active participation in agriculture as a business.

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Direttore Responsabile Giuseppe Frangi