Climate change is a major challenge for agriculture and food security in West Africa

Quantification of greenhouse gases: which are the reliable tools for measuring, monitoring and evaluation to inform policy and mitigation strategies in agriculture for West Africa?

Climate change is a major challenge for agriculture and food security in West Africa. Complex relationships and interactions exist between agriculture and climate change. The FAO estimates (2011) show that agriculture produces 14% of carbon emissions, the equivalent of 7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide each year. Given the high population growth and increasing demand for food, agriculture must adapt and also contribute to reducing carbon emissions through climate-smart management practices.

In Africa, strategies and options for change have long been the only response of farmers to mitigate the effects of climate change. But because of the massive use of fossil fuels such as coal, natural gas and oil to run the industries that are driving the economies of many African countries, it is reasonable, among the range of options for fighting climate change, to introduce measures and mitigation strategies. The development and implementation of sustainable measures and change strategies involve a prior understanding of the potential for reduction and absorption of carbon emissions by agriculture.

This requires the production of data and the ability to monitor, measure and assess the levels of carbon emissions in agriculture.

If the technical capabilities exist in developed and industrialised countries, in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly in West Africa, the available data is derived from comprehensive national estimates. In addition, there is also a lack of qualified human resources with the modern technology, tools and methods to estimate the contribution of different sectors of agriculture in mitigating carbon emissions.

What are the actions to take and/or implement in order to help the poor in climate change mitigation? This is the challenge being tackled by the new CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) ( through its research theme 2.

The overall objective is to develop, in a participatory way, options for strategies, policies and practices that will have a positive and lasting impact on agriculture, food security and livelihoods while protecting the environment and managing natural resources.

To meet this challenge, tools, methods, technologies, and especially human resources must be available at national level to monitor and evaluate carbon emissions and their impact on agriculture.

The CCAFS West Africa programme is organising this regional workshop on the subject from 16 to 17 November 2012 in Accra (Ghana).

The main objective of the workshop: enhancing the ability of national research institutions in West Africa with techniques and methods for quantification and monitoring of carbon emissions in agriculture.

Bringing together experts from national agricultural research systems in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali, Senegal, Benin, and experts from international institutions, this workshop aims to improve the ability of experts to evaluate carbon emissions in agriculture in order to inform the development of policies, strategies and practices at national and regional level on the basis of scientific data and information collected using the best measuring instruments.

Source: APO – Press Release – 15 November 2012