There has been a lot of conversations around EBAFOSA (Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly), African Harvesters discussed with the United Nations Environment Programme’s Africa Regional Climate Change Programme Coordinator, Dr. Richard Munang.
In an exclusive interview. Dr. Richard speaks on The concept of EBAFOSA, EBA Based Agriculture, Youth Inclusion in Agriculture, climate-smart Agric, Food Policies & the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Change Agreement mean for African countries.
See information on the interview below
Question 1: What is EBAFOSA’s role for Youth Inclusion in Agribusiness?
The EBAFOSA paradigm of considering the agriculture sector holistically, to eliminate inefficiencies and maximize productivity towards realizing the $1trillion sector. This through linkage of agro value & supply chain with complementary areas – especially IT, transport & logistics, marketing, energy and this lays the basis of youth inclusion. The objective is to create income & job opportunities along the entire agro-value chain – both on farm & post-farm gate and in these ancillary sectors and involve youth in the processes through “innovative volunteerism”. The EBAFOSA modus operandi. Where multiple stakeholders in a country – individual & institutional; state & non-state – drawn from complementary sectors convene and volunteer physical & non-physical resources available to them. Be it their professional skills, networks, partnerships, time, products / services, initiatives etc. – and build mutual partnerships, addressing their respective strategic needs (e.g. expanding market share, gaining hands on-experience among youth etc.) but geared at a shared bigger strategic objective – bridging policy & operational gaps towards climate proofing & maximizing productivity of Africa’s agriculture by establishing EBA based, clean energy powered agro-industrialization. Involving youth in establishing this paradigm catalyzes the development of practical technical & professional skills among youth by initiating networking for mentorship and skills development between youth & industry leaders in this catalytic area. This empowers youth with the practical skills they need to tap into job & entrepreneurial opportunities as the continent progresses, through EBAFOSA, towards maximizing agriculture to realize the $1trillion sector.
And pockets of this integrated, holistic approach to agriculture to maximize its socio-economic potential is already happening successfully and driven by the youth. For example, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, a group of graduate youthful “agripreneurs” are using clean energy to process cassava, an indigenous, climate resilient crop, into flour, packaging & standardizing it for sell to higher value markets. The youth generate up to $4,000 as weekly income, translating to $16,000 monthly and $196,000 annual income. The UN Environment is through the Ecosystems Based Adaptation for Food Security Assembly (EBAFOSA), engaging with these youth to share lessons & experiences with their peers across Africa and replicate this success across the continent. And by this, build the capacity if the youth to engage in this paradigm, while ensuring this promising enterprise can leverage EBAFOSA presence in 40 countries to tap into broader continental training market opportunities.
So EBAFOSA’s role is supporting countries to establish this holistic paradigm to maximizing productivity of Africa’s food systems – and involving youth in the process to build their capacity for engagement.
Question 2: What is your advice/encouragement for youth in Agriculture across Africa?
My advice is “innovative volunteerism”. First, they can no longer consider their agriculture activities in silo. But must seek to integrate their actions to the broader value chain & trajectory towards establishing the EBA based, clean energy powered agro-industrialization with efficient linkages to markets & supply chains. Secondly, they need to foster partnerships with complementary actors along this trajectory to build their skills & competencies as well as professional network. And EBAFOSA offers an opportunity to actualize both. I therefore urge them to link up with their respective EBAFOSA national braches.
Question 3: Kindly explain the benefits Africa Agropreneurs derives from EBAFOSA membership (EBA Farmers)?
Once again EBAFOSA is about considering the entire agro-value chain and its linkage to complementary sub-sectors holistically in a trajectory aimed at establishing EBA based, clean energy powered agro-industrialization. This integrated chain ensures productivity is maximized at every stage and this is what EBA farmers will benefit. Among specifics include, linkage to clean energy for value addition opportunities- both onfarm value addition of solar powered micro-irrigation & off-farm value addition like solar driers etc., to cut PHLs. Financial intermediation for affordable capital; advisory services to enhance knowledge & skills in this paradigm; standards enforcement to enhance market access; efficient & affordable ICT enabled market & supply chain links. To practically actualize this, EBAFOSA is leveraging on ICT. Aim is to actualize connections among complementary actors along the value chain needed to establish EBA based clean energy powered agro-industrialization. EdenSys, an end-to-end agribusiness management enterprise resource planning (ERP) application developed by Allwins, an EBAFOSA stakeholder, has mapped and integrated the entire EBA-based clean energy powered agro-industrialization value chain to facilitate seamless flow of information and service provision among actors in this chain. EdenSys is providing a “one-stop shop” cloud of services like advisory/extension, financial intermediation, standardization enforcement among others as well as information on markets – both supply & demand markets – all critical in establishment of EBA based agro-industrial zones powered by clean energy.
By collaborating with clean energy actors, banks, including micro-financers, extension & advisory service providers and farmers groups on the EBAFOSA platform, the EdenSys app, accessible by phone & computer, has mapped out and archived these intervening services needed to optimize the entire agro-value chain. For example, in financial intermediation, the app allows enterprises on EBA & clean energy based agro-value addition to post their financial records online & based on their balance sheet apply for loans through their phone or computer. Similarly, extension services are offered online. An entrepreneur connects with an expert online, fills out a query form, including uploading any pictures illustrating nature of their particular issues and gets expert advice. Market information – both demand market information on product and prices, and supply markets in sourcing for inputs. Technical information including on weather patterns is equally covered.
Question 4: Kindly enlighten Agric stakeholders on sustainability measures EBAFOSA has in place for them.
Integration of the entire agro-value chain with critical complementary sectors and sub-sectors at both policy & operational level towards climate proofing& maximizing productivity of Africa’s food systems. End goal being establishing Africa as a leader in clean energy powered sustainable agro-industrialization. For this, a number of gaps at policy & operational level need to be bridged. The operational level gaps including access to financial intermediation, access to markets & supply chains, access to clean energy, advisory etc., are being bridged through ICT as expounded in question 7 above.
At policy level, policy harmonization is needed to ensure relevant sectorial policies are aligned to complement establishment of the EBA based, clean energy powered agro-industrial zones with efficient market access. For this, a number of policies need to be prioritized.
– energy policies will need to incentivize investment in decentralized clean energy plants to power agro-value addition in proximal locations to farming areas. Hence minimize costs & emissions related to transporting bulky low value raw agro-produce to distant locations for value addition.
– transport infrastructure policies will have to target investment in roads linking production areas to markets thus minimize transport costs that make Africa’s products uncompetitive and post harvest losses associated with an up to $4bn annual loss.
– Trade policies will have to prioritize standardization and international certifications for Africa’s agro-produce. To enhance their competitiveness in international markets.
– Fiscal policies will need to provide a suite of fiscal incentives such as tax breaks / waivers for investors bridging specific gaps towards establishment if clean energy powered agro-industrialization.
– Favorable lands policies will be needed to enhance land ownership by small holder farmers thus expand their asset ownership to enable them access opportunities e.g. financing to enhance productivity of their farms. Lands policies should also Incentivize large scale investors in agro-value addition e.g. in clean energy powered agro-industrial zones.
To practically establish these policies, EBAFOSA is supporting countries establish policy task forces to harmonize relevant policies. Though these task forces, policy makers from Ministries of transport, agriculture, environment, lands, energy, industrialization among others are convening to bridge inter-ministerial silos and harmonize their respective policies to ensure they are complementary towards the establishment of agro-industrial zones powered by clean energy. These are special enterprise zones that support an entire ecosystem of clean energy powered agro-processing & value addition industries. It has factories, offices, the full stack of incentives to attract investment (both private & public) to set up factories, buildings, decentralized clean energy plants etc. Incentives including policies prioritizing building of roads that link these enterprise zones to markets; favorable lands policies; tax incentives etc. All the incentives to attract investors to set up a whole eco-system of agro-value addition industries. Already, Nigeria, Kenya, the Gambia, Sierra Leone, Cameroon, Cote d”Ivoire are among countries setting up these policy task forces.
Question 5: What does the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Climate Change Agreement mean for African countries?
Focus on establishing clean energy powered EBA based agro-industrialization as discussed makes implementation of the Paris Agreement a socioeconomic development opportunity for the continent. Where Africa can through targeted partnerships with likeminded countries, leverage on global efforts such as on technology transfer or capacity building to prioritize those specific technologies that will not only abet carbon but also complement establishment of clean energy powered agro-industrialization.
Africa is among regions that have most ratified the Paris Agreement with 37 ratifications as of start of this week, representing about 68% ratification rate. This leadership is a demonstration that the region has taken cue of the opportunities inherent in the agreement and is committed to its implementation.
Beyond Africa, climate action is a global responsibility. And the science is unequivocally clear that the world collectively needs more action to tackle climate change that is already ravaging some of the most vulnerable communities, especially in Africa. For example, the ongoing drought in East Africa has created a monstrous food crisis never seen before – affecting 25 million people in one country alone. And recent scientific findings project that the globe needs to urgently ratchet up actions. While 2016 was the hottest year in recorded history, in April 2017, the world breached yet another climate change milestone as CO2 levels hit 410 parts per million for the first time in recorded history. Bringing the world dangerously close to hitting the 450ppm threshold beyond which the march to the dangerous 2°C warming will be irreversible. At 2°C warming, the magnitude and frequency of such extreme events like droughts is projected to increase exponentially meaning this suffering will only get worse.
Africa is being joined by likeminded parties across the globe in affirming the urgent need to ratchet up action. China which has long taken the lead in implementing the Paris Agreement by being the world’s leading investor in renewables, is set to ratchet up action by spending an additional over $360 billion through 2020 on renewable power – $144 billion in new solar projects, $100 billion in wind and $70 billion in hydropower. India, has taken a moral high ground in favor of implementation with Prime Minister Modi noting that it would be a “morally criminal act” for the world not to do its part on climate change. So Africa is in good company in its trajectory to implement the Agreement. All this goes to show that even with exit of the USA, implementation of the agreement is only gaining momentum, not slowing down.
China’s leadership in clean energy makes it a natural partner for Africa, which is highly endowed with renewable energy resources – including the best solar resource in the planet, in its efforts of ensuring implementation of the Paris Agreement unlocks sustainable agro-industrialization as discussed.