By Kathleen Kirui

While Africa’s development challenges persist, the opportunities to alter the narrative are vast. The 21st century is an opportunity for Africa to redefine its development model and approaches in pursuit of sustainable development.

Agriculture in Africa has a massive social and economic footprint. It forms a significant portion of the economies of all Sub-Saharan African countries contributing towards major continental development priorities such as:

  • eradicating poverty and hunger;
  • boosting intra-Africa trade and investment;
  • rapid industrialization and economic diversification;
  • sustainable resource and environmental management;
  • increased job creation; and
  • shared prosperity.

However, the full agricultural productivity potential and especially for smallholder farmers, remains not only untapped but constrained by factors such as climate change.

It is estimated that by 2030, 90% of the world’s major crops, including maize, rice and wheat, will experience reduced or stagnant growth rates as a result of climate change (CTA, 2020). It is therefore imperative that farmers are supported to adopt climate-smart agriculture to sustain their livelihoods and feed the continent. More than ever, robust investments in improved agricultural practices are crucial to address the intertwined challenges of climate change mitigation, adaptation and food security.

Access to climate finance has long been a challenge for the agriculture sector in Africa mainly due to structural barriers standing between countries. However, it is time for African states to factor the elusive climate risks in the national spending budget and investment requirements to prioritize the development of this key sector. This is to reduce the current trends where development funding is being diverted to rebuilding efforts following “climate shocks.” As a result, a big gap was created and is being filled by climate finance for development areas to adapt and mitigate climate change in the long term. For instance, Kenya spent an unplanned USD 2.5 billion in 2017 on food imports following a severe drought.

While the processes to accessing most green funds can be complicated, it is not impossible. Through engagements such as the partnership between ASCENT, IFAD and National Designated Authorities (NDAs), African governments can be supported to design appropriate projects/programs aimed at delivering climate resilient agriculture across the region. The partnership has organized four workshops in the different sub-regions to illustrate the advantages of applying for international climate finance. With sufficient financing for sustainable and climate-smart production systems, the sector can unlock significant socioeconomic benefits while achieving several of the Sustainable Development Goals.