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Climate change and food systems resilience in sub-Saharan Africa

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L. Ching (ed)
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In 2008, a conference on ecological agriculture in Africa was held in Ethiopia. This volume contains the following views, conclusions and recommendations as expressed by conference participants. The main conclusions were that ecological agriculture:

Is the key to increasing the productivity of Africa's smallholder farmers for better food security.
Offers farmers, as exemplified in Tigray, a means to break out of poverty and achieve food security.
Provides environmental benefits in addressing land degradation and reducing the use of polluting chemical inputs, thus improving health.
Fosters agrobiodiversity which improves agroecosystem resilience, farmer incomes and rural livelihoods.
Has high climate change mitigation potential and it enhances soil fertility.
Assists farmers in adapting to climate change by establishing conditions that increase agroecosystem resilience to stress.

The following policy and planning recommendations were made:

The AU and other regional organisations should assist African governments to implement policies and action plans on ecological agriculture plus developing strategic partnerships with civil society to promote ecological agriculture on the continent.
FAO should assist the AU to develop an African Action Plan on Ecological Agriculture.
Governments are urged to conduct in-depth assessments of agricultural conditions and policies in their countries, identify barriers to a transition to ecological agriculture and gaps in policy, and to ensure policy coherence such that ecological agriculture is promoted and facilitated.
Governments should make trade policies that support ecological/organic agriculture.
Governments should provide support in linking farmers to markets, in the development of domestic and regional markets for organic agricultural products, and in assisting farmers to access regional and international markets.

The following were the research and development recommendations:

Institutions involved in ecological agriculture should pool their expertise to establish an African Centre of Excellence on Ecological Agricultural Research.
The Conference participants agreed to establish a resource centre on ecological agriculture.
Governments should develop awareness, training and educational materials and curricula on ecological agriculture, including for students in schools, tertiary educational institutions, graduate schools, extension officers and farmers.

On projects and technical assistance the conference recommended that:

Pilot projects on ecological agriculture should be established in each country to demonstrate the benefits of ecological agriculture to food security and rural livelihoods.
The training and technical assistance needs in relation to ecological agriculture should be identified and a list of experts compiled and targeted for continued capacity-building and training.