Agricultural shift: UN Women Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Summit with partners

The 2-day Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Summit organized by Aid Forum convened various stakeholders, including UN Women with an aim to facilitate partnerships, discussions on innovation, financing and markets for climate smart agriculture in Africa.

Date: Thursday, May 31, 2018

Women comprise a large proportion of the agricultural labour force in Sub-Saharan Africa of the active farming population, yet women farmers are consistently found to be less productive than male farmers.

The 2-day Africa Climate Smart Agriculture Summit organized by Aid Forum convened various stakeholders, including UN Women with an aim to facilitate partnerships, discussions on innovation, financing and markets for climate smart agriculture in Africa.

In his opening address, Charles Sunkuli, Principal Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forestry in Kenya commented that ‘27% of GDP in Kenya is from Agriculture. Thus, agriculture production declines result in a decline in GDP’. He further stated Kenya’s commitment towards mitigation measures against climate change, the greatest threat to agriculture.

Also, in attendance was Richard Munang, Regional Climate Change Co-Ordinator, United Nations Environment (UNEP), who, in his key note speech outlined the critical role that agriculture plays. He reiterated that ‘nutrition and food security is an issue for everyone; and with over 2 Million youth getting into the job market each year, and 1 in very 6 persons being unemployed, there needs to be a paradigm shift strategy on how agriculture is embraced and perceived.’ He also called on stakeholders to leverage young population and tap into their energy and innovation, creating frameworks that encompasses all actions together and brings all stakeholders and partners together.

During the event Fatmata Lovetta Sesay, Regional Policy Advisor on Climate Smart Agriculture for the East and Southern Africa Region moderated a session on the cost of gender gap in Agricultural productivity. This session’s objective was to present the findings of the UN Women, UNDP-UNEP Poverty-Environment Initiative (PEI) Africa and the World Bank in 2015 in Uganda, Tanzania and Malawi and reconsider in light of follow up work conducted in, Malawi, , Tanzania and Uganda; as well as new findings on the studies carried out in Ethiopia and Rwanda. Combating unequal access to key agricultural inputs such as land, labour, knowledge, fertilizer, and improved seeds; and Promoting women’s economic empowerment to sustainable agricultural production and economic growth.

UN Women’s work in the agriculture sector focuses on food security, agricultural productivity, and particularly, on women’s economic empowerment within the sector. This is because women are major contributors to agriculture. Therefore, there is an increased interest and commitment on evidence generation on women and agriculture especially with estimating the gender gap in agricultural productivity and the cost of the gap.

The panel discussion highlighted that the gender gap in agricultural productivity is large, reducing it may reduce poverty and improve nutrition. Resultantly, there is need to reduce the gap by focusing on the constraints bringing to attention that environment, gender and agriculture are inter-linked factors in poverty reduction paradigm. During the summit, a round table discussion was also conducted that provided interactive discussions on the recommendations for country offices and how they can incorporate Climate Smart Agriculture from the studies within the different countries.

This included panel discussions around several topics including: Thinking Big: Scaling up Smart Farms; Improving adoption of Climate Smart Technologies; Minority Report-Empowering Youth, Women and Pastoralists for Climate Smart Agriculture and Innovative Financing Models for Climate Smart Agriculture.

The Summit also reiterated the importance of recognizing the youth’s potential in technology advances and acknowledging farmers as part of the private sector and not just as beneficiaries of projects.

In conclusion, the forum proposed that the CSA approach must take a cost sharing strategy. Mindset change requires proven methods so that the approach is easily adaptable; and utilizing tech-savvy ideas for market linkages and giving the youth an opportunity to utilize this space.