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African drylands could be the
next frontier for green revolution

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Africa’s expansive dry lands if harnessed sustainably could offer lasting solution to food, water and energy crises in the continent, the UN Dry lands Ambassador Dennis Garrity said on Thursday.

An estimated two thirds of Africa’s land mass is either arid or semi arid and its vast ecological treasures has the potential to transform livelihoods alongside accelerating low carbon development.

“Prudent use of dry land ecosystems can significantly contribute to food security and greening of Africa’s economies. There are success stories across Africa where communities are spearheading regeneration of dry landscapes to produce more food,” Garrity told the African food security conference taking place in Nairobi.

The former Director General of the Nairobi based World Agro- forestry Center (ICRAF) was appointed Dry lands Ambassador by the UN Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) in 2011.

Since his appointment, Garrity has been a leading champion of dry lands restoration through harnessing nature based assets to re- invent farming, pastoralism and attain food security.

“Desertification has worsened in the global south and Africa is affected most as both man-made and natural factors accelerate loss of biodiversity, watersheds and arable land. However, deserts and range lands offer a wealth of opportunities,” Garrity told Xinhua on the sidelines of the food security conference in Nairobi

He noted that the Sahara desert has encroached into fertile land in West Africa while the Horn and Eastern African countries have experienced rapid desertification due to climate change and population pressure.

“Land degradation in Africa has worsened and to reverse this challenge, countries must adopt innovative solutions like agro- forestry and water harvesting to regenerate degraded landscapes,” Garrity remarked.

African countries must establish polices that promote rangelands management to achieve food and water security.

Garrity regretted that governments in Africa have given lip service to pastoralism yet it has potential to boost food security and export earnings.

Seventeen African countries have implemented comprehensive projects to regenerate degraded landscapes and convert them into breadbasket.

Garrity told Xinhua that these countries have scaled up ever- green agriculture that integrates water harvesting, agro-forestry and bio-fortification to sustain food production.

“Climate smart agriculture underpins sustainable use of dry lands to enhance resilience among communities. Millions of African small holders have adopted effective and low cost land regeneration techniques,” said Garrity.

He noted that Kenya ranks among African countries that have established bold policies to regenerate dry lands and ensure communities are food secure.

“Kenya has a progressive policy to achieve 10 percent tree cover on farms. In the lower eastern Kibwezi region, small holders have scaled up rain water harvesting through terracing and planting the right tree species in the farms to capture water,” Garrity said.

He noted that 80 percent of Kenya’s dry land mass has a huge economic potential and could as well be used as carbon sink.



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