The South African Agricultural Sector is bracing itself for what has been described as one of the worst droughts that the country has experienced in decades. The lack of adequate summer rainfall combined with depleting water levels in major dams have already resulted in the introduction of water restrictions and necessitated the need for water supply deliveries to those areas worst affected.
The local economy has also contracted as a direct result of the drought with agriculture contracting by 17.4% quarter-on-quarter. While South Africa already faces the reality of having to import maize to avert a food shortage, the World Food Programme says that crop production is also impacting other Southern African countries, including: Zimbabwe, Malawi, Madagascar and Lesotho.
While much has been documented about the challenges of climate change and its impact on agriculture, comparatively less information is available on the solutions and innovations that will help farmers adapt to climate change.
This is according to Mark Beaumont, Project Director for the Global Forum for Innovations in Agriculture (GFIA Africa) conference and expo, to be held at the Durban Exhibition Centre, in KwaZulu-Natal, from 1-2 December 2015. “The regional Agricultural sector is in urgent need of long-term, sustainable and innovative solutions that will help mitigate the impact of climate change,” says Beaumont.
Described as Africa's most influential event for the future of sustainable agriculture, GFIA Africa will assemble a group of high-profile delegates to present the practical solutions needed to effect real change and offer hundreds of practical solutions that can raise productivity and minimise post-harvest losses in all parts of the continent, while mitigating the effects of unsustainable farming practices and climate change.
The first African edition of the Global Forum for Innovations in Africa (GFIA) is proudly presented by international events organiser, Turret Media, in association with CTA, the Netherlands-based based Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA).
The theme of the GFIA Africa Conference is: Innovations and technologies in agriculture to leapfrog Africa’s development. It will bring together public decision-makers, private sector champions and civil society leaders to discuss what has been achieved through innovative technologies and how to scale up innovative approaches.
The feature-rich conference programme includes a series of pre-conference events hosted by the CTA and Pan African Farmers Organisation (PAFO). The objective is to provide valuable insight on how farmers can use innovative technologies towards climate-change resilience.
On Monday 30 November GFIA Africa will present the Farmers Sessions, which are aimed at farmers, policy makers, development practitioners and extension agencies - who want to learn more about tried and tested climate-smart solutions that could help mitigate the long-term impact of climate change.
On 1 December the GFIA Africa main conference programme will include a panel discussion on Preparing for Tomorrow's Climate. This panel discussion will explore how the African agricultural industry can build resilience to changing climates while increasing productivity and income.
Understanding critical climate threats, climate adaptation and mitigation options, and how to scale up productivity with climate-smart agriculture - are just some of the key focus areas that will be explored during this panel discussion. It will also include speakers from: The Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP), World Vision, African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF) the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) and Bioversity International.
The GFIA Innovations presentations will provide agricultural technology companies, NGOs, academic institutions, farmers or individuals with the opportunity to showcase their own game-changing innovations, technologies, or services, which could have an overwhelmingly positive impact on improving farm productivity and support agricultural development, to a highly relevant and captive audience of government representatives and potential investors.
The GFIA Africa Exhibition includes a line-up of exhibitors that will be showcasing products and services that contribute towards better water distribution and conservation. These companies include: Galuka, Jooste Cylinders & Pumps, Eden Green Hydroponics, MSC Greenhouses and Senter 360. The International Water Management Institute (IWMI), a non-profit, scientific research organisation focused on the sustainable use of water and land resources in developing countries, also joins the exhibitor line-up.
“Sustainable agriculture in South Africa and mitigating the impact of climate change is going to require significant collaboration between a multitude of stakeholders, including: government, private sector players, the farming community and environmentalists,” says Beaumont. “GFIA Africa will provide the practical insight and solutions required to move towards a more sustainable agricultural future,” he concluded.