Paris Agreement Recognises Vulnerability of Food Production Systems

Agriculture finally received a welcome boost in the new climate agreement that was concluded at COP21 in Paris on the 12th of December after two weeks of marathon negotiations involving 195 countries. The adopted agreement now includes important clauses that “recognize the fundamental priority of safeguarding food security and ending hunger, and the particular vulnerabilities of food production systems to the adverse impacts of climate change”. Despite the indirect language, this is a significant improvement from the draft text published in November ahead of the meeting which completely sidelined agriculture. The long awaited binding global agreement commits to a common goal of limiting global warming to “well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels” and outlines mechanisms to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. One of its three objectives is “to pursue a transformation towards sustainable development that fosters climate resilient and low greenhouse gas emission societies and economies, and that does not threaten food production and distribution”. Given the difficult road that agriculture has travelled in these negotiations, this is a significant victory that places the sector in a strong position for the detailed negotiations on how the broad objectives set out in this agreement will be achieved.

While this is a big step in the right direction, real success is only possible if this agreement leads to the development of robust mechanisms for mobilizing finance, technology, capacity and institutional changes needed to support the transition to a climate resilient agriculture. Without innovation, transparency and accountability in mechanisms to deliver these key elements, the good intentions reflected in this agreement are unlikely to bring relief to millions of farmers across the world whose livelihood is under threat from a changing climate. Urgency is now needed to address the ‘what’, the ‘how’ and the ‘where’ of a climate response for agriculture. The negotiations on agriculture-related issues currently underway within the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technological Advice (SBSTA) now need to be accelerated and broadened in scope to ensure a comprehensive response.

Highlight of the Paris agreement

The Goal

The agreement aims to strengthen the global response to the threat of climate change, in the context of sustainable development and efforts to eradicate poverty by,

  1. Holding the increase in the global average temperature to well below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and to pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels, recognizing that this would significantly reduce the risks and impacts of climate change;
  2. Increasing the ability to adapt to the adverse impacts of climate change and foster climate resilience and low greenhouse gas emissions development, in a manner that does not threaten food production;
  3. Making finance flows consistent with a pathway towards low greenhouse gas emissions and climate-resilient development.

Main Elements Covered By the Agreement

  • Mitigation – reducing emissions fast enough to achieve the temperature goal
  • A transparency system and global stock-take – accounting for climate action
  • Adaptation – strengthening ability of countries to deal with climate impacts
  • Loss and damage – strengthening ability to recover from climate impacts
  • Support – including finance, for nations to build clean, resilient futures

Other Details

  • Countries will submit updated climate plans – called Intended nationally determined contributions (INDCs) – every five years, thereby steadily increasing their ambition in the long-term. Emissions should peak “as soon as possible” and then be rapidly reduced. There are five-year reviews, and “the efforts of all parties will represent a progression over time”, which means at each step countries should increase their levels of emission cuts from today’s agreements.
  • All countries need to rapidly move from fossil fuel energy to renewable sources. But the challenge is larger for the developing world, they need funds to “leapfrog the fossil fuel age”. A key part of the agreement provides USD 100 billion per year by 2020, and more than that after 2020 to support such actions.
  • Governments agreed that they will work to define a clear roadmap to increase climate finance to USD 100 billion per year by 2020 while also before 2025 setting a new goal on the provision of finance from the USD 100 billion floor.
  • This will be underlined by the agreement’s robust transparency and accounting system, which will provide clarity on countries’ implementation efforts, with flexibility in line with countries’ differing capabilities.
  • All countries will submit adaptation communications, in which they may detail their adaptation priorities, support needs and plans. Developing countries will receive increased support for adaptation actions and the adequacy of this support will be assessed.
  • The existing Warsaw International Mechanism on Loss and Damage will be significantly strengthened.
  • The agreement includes a robust transparency framework for both action and support. The framework will provide clarity on countries’ mitigation and adaptation actions, as well as the provision of support. At the same time, it recognizes that Least Developed Countries and Small Island Developing States have special circumstances.
  • The agreement includes a global stocktake starting in 2023 to assess the collective progress towards the goals of the agreement. The stocktake will be done every five years.
  • The agreement includes a compliance mechanism, overseen by a committee of experts that operates in a non-punitive way.

Following the adoption of the Paris Agreement by the COP, it will be deposited at the UN in New York and be opened for one year for signature from 22 April 2016.The agreement shall enter into force once at least 55 Parties to the Convention accounting in total for at least an estimated 55 percent of the total global greenhouse gas emissions have deposited their instruments of ratification.

For further information, contact Dr Manyewu Mutamba Tel +27 (0)12 644 0808 E-mail

Drought Dampens 2016 Agricultural Outlook

Absa Agribusiness hosted a Media Round Table on 18 November 2015 where they launched their Agricultural Outlook for 2016 and shared the latest trends and forecasts for the agricultural industry.

For the first time since Absa Agribusiness began publishing its Agricultural Outlook a few years ago, an Africa review was included this time around, covering countries Barclays Africa has a geographical footprint in, namely Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Nigeria, Zambia as well as Zimbabwe; demonstrating the bank’s commitment to drive its Africa Agri-banking operations and deepen it’s understanding of the fragmented yet dynamic landscape.

According to the 2016 outlook, the drought currently ravaging several sub-Saharan Africa has resulted in crop damage, and since South Africa produces and exports the largest crop in Southern Africa, neighbouring countries will be adversely affected.

The respective regions on the continent have been faced with a number of hurdles since the beginning of 2015 and among these are the severe dry conditions ravaging the western regions of southern Africa, specifically Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia and South Africa. The eastern coast of South Africa, Mozambique and Malawi were hit by a tropical cyclone which aggravated seasonal rains and caused floods. On the upside, however, was the depreciation of the Namibian dollar, which is pegged to the South African rand and has increased the opportunity for Namibia to increase its exports, especially in beef. This has been timely as the severe drought experienced in the country has necessitated producers to proactively market their stock and thus the cull the national herd, supporting its move to become the first African country to export bone-in beef to China as of August this year.

The drought has affected the maize outlook for a number of countries, with Zimbabwe expecting a shortfall of 700 000 tonnes of maize following a 49% lower maize harvest year-on-year. This shortage was compounded by numerous producers switching to tobacco production which saw higher profitability as a result of the export market in 2013 and 2014. Going into 2016, Zimbabwe will depend on maize imports to feed its people, amidst the high transport costs and poor border controls. The resultant high feed prices will particularly affect poultry farmers who have already been taking strain from the low anti-dumping import tariff of USD 1.50/ kg and have thus been struggling to compete with the influx of chicken imports. The trend of farmers disinvesting from poultry production in the country is expected to continue.

Botswana received 70% less rain this year and naturally, the grain and beef producers have taken strain from the drought since the beginning of this year, following the drought of 2013. Sorghum producers, however, have been fortunate as they have harvested sufficient yields as a result of the crop’s drought-resistant attributes. The outlook on maize production and beef prices is projected to improve, should producers receive adequate rainfall in the next season.

Given the dry conditions persisting in Zambia’s neighbouring countries, maize production is expected to grow into 2016, supported by high maize prices. Zambia will thus have an opportunity to export even more maize, while foreign investment is anticipated to grow; improving infrastructure and local production capacity. Due to low levels of water in the Kariba dam, Zambia along with Zimbabwe, have been experiencing power deficits which have negatively affected the agricultural industry. The industries expected to be impacted most include dairy processing, milling and crushing plants. A limiting factor facing maize farmers in the country, however, is the Zambian government bans on exports of maize. Owing to the serious storage inefficiencies Zambian producers’ experience, farmers are unlikely to increase production of maize in the new season.

With regards to current trends in the agricultural industry, technology is expected to reshape businesses as well as countries globally. While this is no new phenomenon, this trend would narrow the education gap that exists in populations across the globe and positively contribute to the size of the middle class, which is anticipated to exceed 3.5 billion people in 2050. The demand shift from the West to the East is the second most prevalent trend. This development has had a growing impact on the nature of business conducted globally with implications on macroeconomic factors, influencing the performance of those involved.

With a growth in the consumption of food driven by population growth globally, led by Asia and Africa; there is a growing production opportunity for investors to move their operations to Africa. This is supported by a recent increase in companies moving their production processes out of South Africa and into other sub-Saharan countries. The availability of land for crop production, the single most important resource in agriculture, is anticipated to be at 1.357 million hectares in Africa in the year 2050. This figure is approximately double what is forecast for South America and Asia and furthermore stresses the potential that Africa holds in feeding the world.

The projected real GDP growth for the sub-Saharan African countries surpasses that of developed countries, reaffirming the opportunities available on the continent. In addition, the Tripartite Free Trade Agreement between the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the East African Community (EAC) and the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) will support intra-regional trade among the three regional blocks. Successful implementation of the agreement will lead to harmonisation of tariffs between countries, leading to increased opportunities for liberalised trade amongst member countries.

The Outlook placed particular emphasis on the need for producers to increase productivity in order to be competitive amidst declining terms of trade. Farmers are predominantly price takers since they have no control over prices. Their focus should be on how to boost their volumes as well as use their inputs more efficiently in order to benefit from economies of scale.

The general sentiment for the industry was therefore positive for the upcoming year, given the challenging start that sub-Saharan countries have experienced since the beginning of 2015.

For more information on the 2016 Agricultural Outlook, please contact Miss Tlale Matseke, Regional Commodity Value Chain Coordinator at SACAU. Email:

Agriculture Gets No Mention in Draft Climate Agreement


With just 40 days to the start of the keenly awaited COP21 in Paris, the draft text for a new legally binding climate agreement to replace the Kyoto protocol has been published. Once again, agriculture got no mention in this draft agreement that will guide a global response to climate change. While many of the clauses are still open to further negotiation in Paris, the battle lines are already drawn as the farming community feels agriculture risk being locked out of the global agreement. Many insist that the unique vulnerabilities of farmers, the dire consequences on food security and farmers’ livelihood, the scale and urgency of the necessary response by the sector need to be fully acknowledged and addressed more directly and decisively at the highest level. Without an overarching framework that broadly defines the scope of action on agriculture, the protracted technical agriculture negotiations currently underway within SBSTA are unlikely to ever find expression in the global agreement. In fact, some sceptics have described the agriculture negotiations as a diversionary side-show meant to keep agriculture on a parallel track with no defined mechanism for integration with the climate agreement.

Although the draft agreement emphasizes the need to align actions with the goal of promoting food security, it stops short of committing to take decisive action to protect agriculture and the millions of households across the world who depend on it for a livelihood, from the devastating impacts of climate change. Without a spirited push by farmers and their allies in Paris to get agriculture back on the agenda, the climate deal will most certainly sideline the world’s food producers.

Overall, the draft agreement stays clear of many contentious issues at the center of the negotiations, preferring to set broad institutional guidelines. The generally non-committal tone of the draft agreement is a cause for concern. Many key aspects such as financial contributions by developed nations are stated as optional, littered with escape clauses such as ‘Parties in a position to do so; Parties should strive to’. Reading between the lines one also get a lingering bias towards mitigation over adaptation which is the priority for most developing nations, setting the stage for a potentially bruising confrontation at the Paris meeting.

Extracts from key elements of the draft climate agreement (see full text at )


The purpose of the agreement is to enhance the implementation of the Convention, strengthen and support the global response to the urgent threat of climate change by further addressing its causes and by further increasing resilience and the ability to adapt to its adverse impacts, with a view to promoting the global transformation to low-emission and climate-resilient societies and economies.

The Ambition

Parties recognize that deep cuts in global greenhouse gas emissions are urgently required, with a view to reducing such emissions so as to hold the increase in the global average temperature below 2 °C above pre-industrial levels


Parties aim to reach by a date to be agreed, a peaking of global greenhouse gas emissions or zero net greenhouse gas emissions. Each Party shall regularly communicate a nationally determined mitigation contribution. Successive nationally determined mitigation commitments will be communicated every five years, unless decided otherwise by the Convention. The secretariat shall maintain in a public registry Parties’ nationally determined mitigation commitments.


Parties share the goal of increasing resilience and reducing vulnerability to climate change, recognizing that adaptation is a challenge faced by all, with local, national, regional and international dimensions, and that it is a key component of and contribution to the long-term global response to climate change to protect people, livelihoods and ecosystems.

Parties acknowledge that adaptation action should follow a country-driven, gender-sensitive, participatory and fully transparent approach, taking into consideration vulnerable groups, communities and ecosystems, and should be based on and guided by the best available science as well as traditional and indigenous knowledge, with a view to integrating adaptation into relevant social, economic and environmental policies and actions.

Loss and Damage

Parties acknowledge the importance of addressing loss and damage associated with climate change impacts and recognize the need for international cooperation and solidarity


Over time, all finance flows should promote the transformation to low-emission and climate resilient societies and economies. Developed country Parties and Parties in a position to do so shall provide support to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation. Developed country Parties and Parties in a position to do so shall periodically communicate information on the projected levels of public climate finance.

The mobilisation of climate finance shall be scaled up from USD 100 billion per year from 2020.

Parties should strive to balance adaptation support relative to mitigation support, bearing in mind country-driven strategies, priorities and needs, including in relation to forests, technology transfer and capacity-building. Parties should strive to improve the predictability of finance flows.

Explore options for simplifying procedures for accessing support, in particular for the LDCs and SIDS.

Technology Development and Transfer

All Parties, noting the importance of technology to support the implementation of mitigation and adaptation efforts under this Agreement and recognizing existing deployment and dissemination efforts, shall strengthen cooperative action to promote and enhance technology development and transfer, improve enabling environments for and address barriers to the dissemination and uptake of technology, and foster cooperative approaches to research and development.

Capacity Building

Capacity-building under this Agreement should facilitate the ability of Parties, particularly developing countries, to identify, design and implement adaptation and mitigation actions; facilitate technology development and the absorption of technology and finance; and facilitate the transparent, timely and accurate communication of information.


Building on the Convention arrangements and with a view to promoting confidence and effective implementation, a [unified] [robust] transparency system covering both action and support, applicable to all Parties in a flexible manner and taking into account their differing capacities, is hereby established.

The purpose of the system for transparency of action is to:

  • Provide the clearest possible understanding of the emissions of individual Parties and of global aggregate emissions in the light of the global temperature goal;
  • Ensure clarity and tracking of progress made in implementing and achieving individual Parties’ respective nationally determined mitigation [contributions] [commitments], as well as tracking progress in implementing adaptation actions.

The purpose of the system for transparency of support is to:

  • Enhance the tracking of support provided and received;
  • Provide, to the extent possible, a full overview of support provided and received.

Each Party [shall][should] regularly provide complete and accurate information in relation to:

  • Its national inventory of anthropogenic emissions by sources and removals by sinks of greenhouse gases, using comparable methodologies to be agreed on by the CMA
  • Progress made in implementing and achieving its nationally determined mitigation [contribution][commitment]
  • Information on vulnerability to climate change impacts and actions taken to build resilience and reduce vulnerability;
  • Support provided, efforts to improve domestic enabling environments, and support received, including the use, impact and estimated results thereof.

Entry into Force

This Agreement shall enter into force on the thirtieth day after the date on which at least [X] number of Parties to the Convention have deposited their instruments of ratification, acceptance, approval or accession with such Parties to the Convention accounting for X per cent of total global greenhouse gas emissions

For further information, contact:

Dr Manyewu Mutamba Tel +27 (0)12 644 0808, E-mail

SACAU Convening Regional Workshop for Dairy Farmers

From the 23rd of June 2015, the Southern African Confederation of Agricultural Unions (SACAU) will host a 3-day workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe, for dairy farmers drawn from across eastern and southern African countries. This will be convened in partnership with the Zimbabwe Association of Dairy Farmers (ZADF) and the WeEffect (formerly Swedish Cooperative Centre).

The workshop seeks to understand developments of the dairy sector in eastern and southern Africa, get updates from national dairy associations in southern Africa on their success stories, the key challenges and policy issues affecting the dairy sectors in these countries and to identify lobby and advocacy issues that need to be addressed at regional level. Attendees will also learn about models for micro financing of small scale dairy farming as well as the different dairy production models in Zimbabwe. They will then establish terms of references for the regional dairy platform steering committee.

Delegates from South Africa, Lesotho, Namibia, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe are expected to be in attendance.

SADC’s 2063 roadmap

More prominence appears to have been given to minerals following the recent Southern African Development Community (SADC) Heads of State and Government Summit in Zimbabwe. Regional leaders approved two crucial blueprint documents on economic integration and industrialisation in Southern Africa during the Extra-Ordinary Summit.

In view of the crucial importance of agriculture in the region, a focus on agriculture can bring broader benefits and major impact it many people in the region. Sub-Saharan Africa remains an overwhelming agricultural region. The region is blessed with fertile land, water and a good agricultural climate needed to be a leading global food producer.

However, as noted at the Summit trade between southern African countries remain low, at around 10 percent, while the figure is much higher with trading partners outside the continent. The Summit considered the SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap and the revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (2015-2020) as mandated at the 34th Ordinary SADC Summit held in August 2014, in Zimbabwe.

The SADC Industrialisation Strategy and Roadmap is anchored on three pillars, i.e. industrialisation, competitiveness and regional integration, and is also premised on a three-phase long outlook covering 2015-2063. The Industrialisation Strategy is thus aligned with the African Union’s Agenda 2063. The Revised Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP 2015-2020) will guide the implementation of SADC programmes in the next five years and will focus on four priority areas. These are an industrial development and market integration; infrastructure in support of regional integration, peace and security cooperation, and special programmes of a regional dimension.

Mineral beneficiation is amongst others seen by regional leaders as a great source of job creation and enhancement of economic development in the region. Beneficiation is regarderd as a crucial part of industrialisation and regional integration. SADC is currently integrating with other two regional blocs, i.e. Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Commission (EAC).

NFO’s making inroads

Following a training and advocacy workshop in South Africa, SACAU has noted a greater recognition of the role National Farmers’ Organisations (NFO’s) by stakeholders in their respective countries. Young farmers’ organisations in particular have seen an increase in the demand for their participation in key policy and programme discussions and meetings.

According to Benito Eliasi, SACAU Capacity Development Advisor, the trends are an indication of the integrity and credibility of NFO’s in strengthening their role in agricultural development. “Most of these NFOs have been in existence for less than 10 years, but have built confidence among their strategic partners to become very important partners in the programme and policy discourse in their respective countries,” he explained.

To illustrate this point delegates learned at the workshops that in a space of 10 months last year, five NFOs namely ACT (Tanzania), CPM (Madagascar), SNAU (Swaziland), SeyFA (Seychelles) and LENAFU (Lesotho) combined received a total of 247 invitations. This translate into approximately 22 invitations per month among them. These invitations can be seen as evidence that various stakeholders recognize and acknowledge the value of NFOs in development policy structures. Finance from International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), European Commission (EC), Agence Francaise de Development (AFD) and Swiss Agency for Development and Corporation (SDC) has provided facilities and human capacity to these NFOs to make their visibility and .participations possible.

In addition to these invitations, NFOs are also serving as members in various important agricultural committees in their countries and regions. It has also been established that leaders and management in these NFOs are participating in 41 committees, taskforces or working groups. Through these committees they contribute to decision-making pertaining to a number of issues in agriculture, whilst their presence in such committees also ensures that the voices of farmers are heard.