Improving African food security in the face of climate change

ILRI FANRPAN dialog meeting display

Scientists, policymakers and farmers from across Africa are meeting this week in Windhoek, Namibia to discuss how to improve food security in Africa in the face of climate change. (Photo credit: ILRI/Stevie Mann) 

The International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) is this week joining over 200 policymakers, farmers, agricultural product dealers, scientists and non-governmental organizations from across Africa in Windhoek, Namibia, in a week-long Regional Food Security Policy Dialogue organized by the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN). This year’s dialogue focuses on African priorities for food security and climate change and the impacts of climate change on agricultural development, natural resource management and rural livelihoods.

ILRI agricultural systems analyst Mario Herrero and Siboniso Moyo, ILRI representative for southern Africa, are attending this conference, which runs from 30 August to 3 September 2010. The participants are examining ways of helping over 265 million people on the continent overcome chronic hunger.

Lindiwe Sibanda, Chief Executive Officer of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network and member of ILRI’s Board of Trustees, says, ‘Africa’s challenges include stagnant agricultural productivity; limited access to agricultural inputs, water, markets and knowledge. And increasingly, we must also cope with more extreme and erratic weather (floods and droughts), soil salinity and unpredictable rainfall, and the effects of such climate change on agricultural production.’

Because agriculture, including livestock farming, still holds the greatest potential to boost rural livelihoods, reduce poverty and spur growth in other sectors in the continent, forums such as this are needed to pull together high-quality, evidenced-based, information and knowledge that can benefit Africa’s poorest people, most of whom are women who rely on agriculture for their livelihoods.

With 60 percent of the world's uncultivated arable land, Africa's agricultural sector has potential to feed its own people and grow to a US$880 billion industry if the right production strategies and methods are used to increase production.

‘To achieve this’, said Sibanda, ‘agricultural tools and knowledge must be made accessible to farmers to increase their yields and adapt to new climate scenarios. Africa needs its own agricultural revolution, one built on technology and innovation and facilitated by a conducive policy environment aligned with the needs of African farmers.’

The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network works in 13 African countries, encouraging government and civil society to work together in support of demand-driven agricultural policy research and analysis.

For more coverage of the 2010 dialogue, visit: and

To find out more about ILRI's presentation during the meeting (by Mario Herrero) please visit: and

For information about the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource Policy Analysis Network, see

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