19 September 2023, Tanzania: CABI has highlighted its support for climate- resilient food systems – in line with its Medium-Term Strategy (MTS) 2023-2025 – at the Africa Food Systems Forum 2023 (also known as AGRF 2023) held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
In light of challenges from climate change, population growth, economic downturns, and other issues, the Forum stressed that the need for transformative action has never been more urgent.
Speakers at the Forum called for bold thought leadership to accelerate translation of food system pathways and commitments into actionable strategies and for investments targeting women and youth.
CABI’s support mirrors the Forum’s theme ‘Recover, Regenerate, Act: Africa’s Solutions to Food Systems Transformation,’ which focused on building back better food systems after multiple crises and shocks and ensuring resilience to continuing challenges like climate change.
Biggest challenges facing humanity
Dr Daniel Elger, CABI’s CEO, outlined at the Forum how CABI is working with its 17 Member Countries in Africa on the biggest challenges facing humanity, including hunger, poverty, gender inequality, climate change and the loss of biodiversity.
Dr Elger took part in a Side Event and a Policy Symposium at the event and outlined what CABI is doing, as part of its MTS, to help farmers in Africa improve food security and adapt to climate change.
CABI also had a booth which highlighted the organization’s work in the region. This showcased CABI’s PlantwisePlus programme and demonstrations of digital tools within the PlantwisePlus Toolkit.
These include the CABI BioProtection Portal, tools for optimising application of fertiliser and pesticides, and CABI Academy digital learning courses on Crop Pest Diagnosis and Crop Pest Management.
The booth also featured CABI’s work on FAIR data (making data from development interventions findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable) and the value of better data sharing.
CABI supported the FCDO-funded Commercial Agriculture for Smallholders and Agribusiness (CASA) programme with its involvement in the Agribusiness Dealroom, which is a matchmaking platform to facilitate partnerships and investments in African agriculture. CABI is the research and engagement lead for CASA.
Climate-resilient agri-food systems
CASA aims to drive global investment in climate-resilient agri-food systems that increases smallholder incomes. The programme makes the case for increased agribusiness investment by demonstrating the commercial and development potential of sourcing models involving empowered smallholder producers and by tackling the information and evidence gaps holding back investment.
Phyllis Ombonyo, CABI’s Head of Strategic Partnerships, Africa, moderated a Side Event on Monday 4th September entitled ‘Supporting smallholder productivity and resilience through increased access to investment, information and innovation.’
On the Side Event panel, Dr Elger was joined by Professor Tom Thompson, from Virginia Tech, and Maryanne Gichanga, of AgriTech Analytics.
The session set the stage for investors, agribusinesses and governments on the trends and implications of agricultural productivity growth in Africa.
It also sought to identify leading innovations and investment opportunities that will create returns to investors, smallholder producers, and the environment.
Dr Elger used the opportunity to highlight the importance of support for adaptation planning and improved access to financial services.
This is particularly true for women smallholder farmers who make up 55% of the labour force in Africa but face inequalities with regards to land, labour, finance, advisory services and access to markets.
He also stressed the importance of developing digital, hybrid and face-to-face agricultural advisory services designed to ensure equitable access for women and youth.
Financing mechanisms for climate-smart agriculture
On Wednesday 6th September, Shaila Mahmud, Climate Finance Advisor for CABI, took part in an event, titled ‘Innovative Financing Mechanisms for Stimulating the Uptake of Climate-Smart Agriculture Technologies.’
At the event, Ms Mahmud presented research produced as a result of CABI’s panel discussion at AGRF 2022. The presentation focused on different financing mechanisms to drive the adoption of climate-smart agriculture technologies by agribusinesses and smallholder farmers.
With the support of the moderator, a panel then unpacked some of the financial mechanisms that can drive more significant investment in adaptation in African agriculture.
On Thursday 7th September Dr Ismahane Elouafi, Chief Scientist, FAO, moderated a policy symposium, entitled ‘Transforming African Food Systems to Cope with Climate Change.’ Dr Elger took part in a Fireside Chat at the symposium with Dr Enock Chikava, Director of Agricultural Development at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
Dr Elger commented on the approaches being pursued at national and supranational levels to develop climate-resilient food systems on the continent. He also highlighted CABI’s work on FAIR data, which can help to increase returns on investment in development research.
Dr Elger said, “CABI recognizes the centrality of science, technology, and innovation to help reduce and adapt to the impacts of climate change amid the need to feed a growing population expected to reach 2.6 billion in Africa alone by 2050.
“The Africa Food Systems Forum was a valuable opportunity to engage with diverse partners on how to ensure that development initiatives are both scalable and sustainable.
“This is important to our work with our Member Countries across Africa as they seek to empower their smallholder farmers – particularly women and youth – to improve their livelihoods and generate sustainable food security.”
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