By Omoh Gabriel, Business Editor
Nigerian small-holder farmers and those from 11 other Africa countries are to benefit from the Global Environment Facility, an innovative N20.975 billion ($106.5 million) pilot programme for fostering sustainability and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The twelve African dry-land countries are Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Kenya, Senegal, Swaziland, Tanzania, and Uganda.
According to GEF, these dry-land regions face the greatest threat of environmental degradation in small-holder farms, and are therefore well placed to harness good practices for sustainability and resilience such as soil and water conservation, diversification of farmlands, and integrated management of crops and livestock.
GEF financing for the programme will be driven by the priorities of participating countries, primarily in the context of baseline investments addressing the needs of small-holder farmers. The programme, it was further learnt, will enable creation or strengthening of institutional frameworks to promote integrated approaches in small holding agriculture; promote scaling-up of interventions for sustainability and resilience; and ensure effective monitoring of ecosystem services and global environmental benefits through application of innovative tools and practices.
Mr. Richard Lerisien Lesiyampe, GEF council member from Kenya in endorsing GEF’s integrated programmatic approach said:
“The whole world must develop a framework for food security; this working programme is so significant it will go into the annals of the GEF.”
The Global Environment Facility said the innovative $106.5 million pilot programme for fostering sustainability and food security in Sub-Saharan Africa is in response to the growing pressure to transform African agriculture through intensification with high inputs and high yielding varieties that will likely undermine sustainability of the natural capital.
According to the body, “By integrating environmental priorities at scale, the programme, entitled Fostering Sustainability and Resilience for Food Security in Sub-Saharan Africa will enable smallholder farmers in the dry-land regions of Sub-Saharan Africa ensure the sustainability and resilience of production systems”.
Naoko Ishii, CEO and Chairperson of GEF said: “Sustainability of the natural capital — land, water, soil, trees, and genetic resources — that underpin food and nutrition security, must be ensured by bridging the gap between traditional and modern farming practices. Smallholder agriculture, which accounts for more than 70 percent of agricultural production in Sub-Saharan Africa, can benefit from a holistic approach to management of natural capital.”
It was learnt that the total GEF financing of $106.5 million will be supplemented by $805.36 million co-financed from the governments, development agencies, foundations, international organizations, and the private sector. IFAD is the lead GEF agency for the programme, and seven other GEF agencies — CI, FAO, IFAD, UNDP, UNEP, UNIDO, and the World Bank — will support the individual country projects.