Embrace traditional crops to combat climate change, UN tells Africa

Cameroonian farmers showcase food harvest (PHOTO: ClimateReporters/Aaron Kaah)
Cameroonian farmers showcase food harvest (PHOTO: ClimateReporters/Aaron Kaah)

The UN specialised agency on combating hunger on Monday urged African states to embrace traditional crops in order to combat climate change.

Wilson Ronno, Crops Officer at the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) Kenya, said this when FAO officials made a courtesy call to the Kenya Agricultural and Livestock Research Organisation offices in Nairobi.

Ronno said studies had indicated that Sub-Sahara Africa will lose a significant portion of its arable land in the coming decades due to climate change.

“Africa should embrace and promote sorghum, millet, cassava and indigenous vegetables because they could help the continent fight climate change as they are drought tolerant crops,” Ronno said.

The FAO officials are currently visiting Kenyan projects that have received financial assistance from the Benefit Sharing Fund which aims to increase the number of nutritious crops that farmers grow.

Ronno said the amount of land suitable for growing one of Africa’s key staple crops, maize will reduce as climate change is now a reality.

“The continent should ensure resilience against climate change by embracing traditional crops that have been neglected,’’ he added.

Ronno observed that millets and sorghum would be the food for the future when temperatures go up and maize can longer perform well.

The crops officer said cultivation and consumption of indigenous crops had been on the decline due to increasing urbanisation and change of lifestyles.

He noted that as Africa economy develops, the urban population have begun to embrace foreign foods and move away from consuming indigenous crops.

“As a result, farmers have lost the incentive to cultivate traditional crops such as sorghum and millet,” he added.

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