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African research body to start commerc-
ializing climate smart maize variety

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Africa’s crop research body is set to start commercializing climate smart maize variety in Sub Saharan Africa (SSA) to help save farmers from experiencing complete crop loss when drought and insects affect their farms.

The African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) will commence the commercialization process after securing 27 million U.S. dollars grant from Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF).

“We intend to offer dependable solutions to farmers and reach the countries within the next five years,” Denis Kyetere, Executive Director of AATF, told journalists on Wednesday.

Kyetere said that the initiative will help promote the role of biotechnology in coping with climate change in the countries to be covered.

He said that the amount will go towards deregulation and commercialization of transgenic insect-pest protected maize hybrids (trademarked as TELA maize) in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique and Ethiopia, over the next five years.

“The grant from BMGF will help us scale impact of transgenic products to help farmers across target countries grow varieties that are not affected by drought and pests,” he added.

Africa is a drought-prone continent, making farming risky for millions of smallholder farmers who rely on rainfall to water their crops.

“Maize is the most widely grown staple crop in the region where more than 300 million farmers depend on it as their main food source yet it is severely affected by frequent drought,” Kyetere noted.



Scientists launch guide to tap investment in climate smart agriculture in Africa

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Scientists from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) on Wednesday launched a guide aimed at tapping investment in climate smart agriculture in Africa.

The detailed guide on the status and opportunities for investment in climate smart agriculture in 14 African countries provide, for the first time, a scientific framework to guide future climate smart agriculture financing in the continent.

“Climate smart agriculture practices seek to help farmers adapt to changing weather patterns, while reducing emissions and boosting food security,” Evan Girvetz, Senior Scientist at CIAT and project team leader said during a global conference to fast-track adoption of climate-smart strategies in Africa in Nairobi.

Girvetz observed that for many large donors, private sector companies and African governments, investing in African agriculture is still extremely risky.

“Our data and evidence based report aim to reduce that risk, by providing a detailed analysis of the most effective approaches to the sustained adoption of climate smart agriculture from a local to a national level,” he added.

The scientist noted that the impacts from climate change on people in Sub-Saharan Africa are expected to be some of the greatest compared to other regions by 2,100, yet the continent currently only receives 5 percent of climate funding.

Ademola Braimoh, the World Bank Coordinator for climate smart agriculture said that large-scale investments in climate-smart agriculture need to be based on solid evidence that provide productivity and climate benefits.

“With the work from CIAT scientists, we are now far better equipped to make financing decisions to climate-proof African agriculture in these countries,” Ademola said.

The project focuses on Senegal, Rwanda, Mozambique, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Ethiopia, Côte D’Ivoire, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Benin, Niger and Mali.

It provide a snapshot of the key issues such as climate impacts, climate smart agriculture practices, relevant policies, and financing opportunities for scaling up the promotion and sustained adoption of climate smart agriculture interventions.

The researchers have noted in details policy and investment recommendations based on an analysis of current drivers and constraints to adoption the identified practices.

“There is an insatiable appetite from African governments for up-to-date information on how to implement climate-smart agriculture,” Robert Zougmore, Africa Lead on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) said.

He said that the climate smart agriculture profile is being used to inform national climate change plans and programs in Senegal.

“The creation of profiles for three states in Nigeria has been requested by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), demonstrating the high demand for this data West Africa-wide,” he added.



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