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Climate change has reduced agricultural productivity by 34 percent in Africa

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In Kenya, intense and frequent droughts, floods and heatwaves are reducing crop yields and increasing malnutrition.

Agricultural productivity in Africa has declined by 34 per cent since 1961, a United Nations report has revealed.

The report released in February and prepared by the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), further stated that the decline was a result of adverse impacts of climate change.

It highlights agriculture as one of the highly vulnerable sectors, a situation that has continued to increase malnutrition in the continent.

“Climate change, including increases in frequency and intensity of extremes, have reduced food and water security, hindering efforts to meet Sustainable Development Goals. Although overall agricultural productivity has increased, climate change has slowed this growth over the past 50 years globally,” the report notes.

Already, Kenya is experiencing a decline in productivity as a result of erratic rainfall and intensifying droughts.

According to the Kenya Food Security Steering Group (KFSSG), the maize harvest in the marginal agricultural areas is 45-50 percent of the five-year national maize production average.

The situation is attributed to widespread below-average crop production in marginal agricultural areas, with crop failure in Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, and Tharaka Nithi.

By February 2022, the number of food-insecure people in pastoral and marginal agricultural areas had risen from 2.1 million in August 2021 to 3.1 million.

his, according to KFSSG, was driven by impacts of poor crop and livestock production and resource-based conflict. “Widespread maize crop failure was reported in Kilifi, Kwale, Taita Taveta, and Tharaka Nithi, where county maize production was between 1 percent to 7 percent of the five-year average,” it said.

“The poor harvest was due to households planting on less land in anticipation of the below- average rainfall, lower seed stocks, and below-average rainfall throughout the short rains season,” Famine Early Systems Network noted.

Maize productivity over the years has been marred by fluctuations, linked to changing weather patterns.

In 2011, for example, maize production in Kenya was estimated to be at 3.7 million tonnes but in 2016 it reduced to an estimated 3.3 million tonnes, representing more than 11 per cent decline.

In 2017, it is approximated that Kenya imported 1.3 million tonnes of maize from 0.8 million tonnes in 2014, marking maize import increment of over 38 per cent.

And while the IPCC report suggests that increasing weather and climate extreme events have exposed millions of people to acute food insecurity, reduced water security, it notes that the largest impacts have been observed in communities in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Small Islands and the Arctic.

“Jointly, sudden losses of food production and access to food compounded by decreased diet diversity have increased malnutrition in many communities, especially for Indigenous Peoples, small-scale food producers and low-income households with children, elderly people and pregnant women particularly impacted,” it notes.

The IPCC report predicts that climate change will continue putting pressure on food production and access, especially in vulnerable regions, undermining food security and nutrition. Both frequency and severity of droughts, floods and heat waves, is expected to intensify.

It also predicts that the continued sea-level rise will increase risks to food security in vulnerable regions from moderate to high between 1.5°C and 2°C global warming levels.

“Global warming will progressively weaken soil health and ecosystem services such as pollination, increase pressure from pests and diseases, and reduce marine animal biomass, undermining food production in many regions on land and in the ocean,” the IPCC report notes.

Original Source: Independent.co.uk

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Anti-tick vaccine drive gives hope to farmers

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Dairy farmers in Ankole Sub-region are optimistic that the anti-tick vaccine launched by the government will solve their problem of tick resistance to acaricides.
For the last 10 years, dairy farmers across the country have decried tick resistance to acaricides, which has been ravaging the livestock sector.

Mr Emmanuel Kyeishe, a resident of Rushere in Kiruhura District and dairy farmer with more than 100 head of cattle, says dairy farmers in the cattle corridor have battled the problem of tick resistance for a long time.
“The issue of ticks has been rampant in the cattle corridor to the extent of losing our cows. We spend a lot on treating them because of ticks since they infect animals with several diseases,”  he said.

Mr Kyeishe said he loses at least two cows every month to tick-borne diseases like East Coast Fever and heart water.
“I have lost 180 cows in the last five years due to ticks and tick-borne diseases. If they do not die, they get blind and some lose their skin. But if we get a vaccine, it will have saved us a lot,” he said.
Mr Kyeishe added that he has resorted to mixing agrochemicals with acaricides since the available ones on the market are failing.

Mr Jackson Bells Katongole, a dairy farmer in Kashari, Mbarara District, said if the government’s move to have anti-tick vaccine is successful, quality of dairy products would improve.
“A farmer loses at least two to five cows every month and we have resorted to using different concoctions from Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya because the problem of ticks has made us helpless,” he said.
He added: “We had reached the point of mixing pesticides with acaricides because of tick resistance and in the process our cows have gone blind, lost skin and others died.”

Mr Katongole further said each cow that dies is valued at around Shs2.5 million, which means that a farmer loses Shs5 million every month.
The Mbarara City Veterinary Officer, Dr Andrew Akashaba, said in Mbarara alone, there are about 60,000 head of cattle, mostly exotic breeds which are prone to ticks.
“Most of the exotic breeds of cattle are at a high risk of acquiring ticks and tick borne diseases, which are a major hindrance to livestock development in the cattle corridor,” he said.
Mr Akashaba added that between 2,000 and 3,000 cows die annually in Mbarara alone due to tick-related diseases.

While launching the final clinical trial of anti-tick vaccine manufactured by National Agriculture Research Organisation at Mbarara Zardi on Thursday, the deputy director general and research coordinator, Dr Yona Baguma, assured the farmers that once the vaccine is approved, they will be spraying their cattle against ticks twice in six months as opposed to twice a week.

Original source: Monitor

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Farmers fail to access farm inputs on Ministry e-platform

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About 3,640 model farmers in Nebbi District, who were registered under the Agricultural Cluster Development Programme (ACDP) to access agricultural inputs on E-voucher, are stuck after failure of the system.

The farmers say the system has affected their planting patterns.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Husbandry under the Agriculture cluster Development Programme (ACDP) introduced the e-voucher system five years ago to enable farmers access agricultural inputs electronically.

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Farmers on alert as new banana virus hits Western Uganda

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Farmers should stop getting banana plantlets from districts in Western and North-West Uganda to stop the spread of the Banana Bunchy Top Virus (BBTV) disease, Hebert Musiimenta, the Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries-MAAIF has advised.

The Banana Bunchy Top Virus was first observed in the western Uganda districts in late 2020. In July this year, the ministry raised a red flag when the disease caused havoc on banana plantations in West Nile, Rwenzori and Tooro regions.

An infected plant presents with severe stunting, narrow leaves, chlorotic leaf margins, and dark green streaks on petioles and midribs. The affected plant also shows a rosette-like or bunchy and choked appearance. Diseased plants rarely produce fruit and when they do, the fruit is stunted and twisted.

The disease is spread by aphids and the planting of affected tubers.

The disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Hebert Musiimenta, Principal Agricultural Inspector in the Ministry of Agriculture Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), says to contain the spread of the disease, farmers should stop getting banana planting materials from Nebbi, Zombo, Arua, Maracha, and Koboko districts in North-West Uganda and Bunyangabu, Kasese, Kabarore, and Bundibugyo districts in Western Uganda.

He also advises the farmers to be cautious about planting materials from Kisoro, Kabale, Ntungamo, and Isingiro districts since they are near the border.  The disease is suspected to have spread to Uganda from the neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Rwanda. Musiimenta advised farmers in an interview with URN that if they are to pick planting materials, they should first consult agriculture officers in their areas to recommend safe planting materials.

Musimenta revealed that a team of officials from the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industries, and Fisheries is investigating the prevalence of the virus in Kigezi region specifically districts neighboring Rwanda and DR Congo.

He says the disease has the capacity to wipe out banana gardens within 3 to 5 years unless farmers practice the control measures such as the proper destruction of affected stems, control of aphids, and planting clean materials.

Original Source: URN via The independent

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