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Agriculture deserves its rightful place at COP17
2 December 2011
Ben Rootman
Junxion Communications


The Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions has stressed the importance of incorporating agriculture in the 17th Conference of Parties resolutions, saying it deserves to be discussed separately and not as part of 'other sectors' in the ongoing meetings in Durban.

The confederation's Technical Assistant, Policy Development, Stephanie Aubin said in Durban that agriculture is the main foundation of most African economies, the most climate-sensitive sector and the most vulnerable to climate change.

"Proper agreements in favour of the agriculture sector are important because of its significant contribution to food security, employment, livelihoods and poverty alleviation for millions of households on the continent."

According to the International Fund for Agricultural Development there are more than 500 million smallholder farms in the world supporting some two billion people. They provide up to 80 per cent of food consumed in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

The confederation stressed that agriculture deserves special treatment during the COP 17 discussions because of the severe impact that climate change is having on agriculture – which is predicted to worsen in the future.

Auben said COP17 delegates are supposed to recognise the importance of agriculture, and should develop new and innovative ways of financing climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The confederation's Chief Executive Officer, Ishmael Sunga said agriculture should be on the climate change agenda as the current speed and intensity of climate change are outpacing the sector's capacity to adapt.

"Agriculture is the foundation of most African economies and the most climate- sensitive sector, so it is imperative that it forms part of the agenda at this year's COP17," he said.

The Director of the International Fund for Agricultural Development's environment and climate division, Elwyn Grainger-Jones said climate finance can help scale up investments in sustainable agriculture and research that will help them adapt to changing weather conditions and contribute to global food security.

"Poor smallholder farmers are in the frontline of climate change impacts, yet they don't benefit enough from climate finance."

The fund alleged that climate change is making smallholders' development more expensive as they are facing significant risks and barriers that limit their access to climate finance.

It is estimated that the annual cost of climate change adaptation in agriculture in the developing world ranges from US$7 billion to US$ 12 billion per year.

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