Blow to food security as farmers sidelined in finance

Casual laborers weed at a sweet potato farm in Matuu, Machakos County on October 05, 2022. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

A paltry 0.3 per cent of climate finance reaches 35 million family farmers who produce a third of world food, a new analysis has revealed.

The analysis of small-scale producers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Pacific, surfaces just ahead of the COP 28 summit set to establish a Global Goal for Adaptation.

The agri-food sector, crucial in global food security, received a fraction of the attention it deserves in international public climate finance.

In 2021, the sector secured only USD 8.4 billion, roughly half of the USD16 billion allocated to energy.

Countries facing climate vulnerabilities and food insecurity, such as Zambia and Sierra Leone, received a mere USD20 million each.

Hakim Baliriane, Chair of the Eastern and Southern Africa Small-Scale Farmers Forum, voiced the urgency of the matter, and stated that Climate change has pushed 122 million people into hunger since 2019.

“Reversing this trend will not be possible if governments continue to tie the hands of millions of family farmers. Together we produce a third of the world’s food yet receive a fraction of the climate finance we need to adapt,” Baliriane said.

The analysis further reveals that only 2 per cent of international public climate finance, totalling USD2 billion, was directed at small-scale family farmers and rural communities.

This meagre amount equates to a mere 0.3 per cent of the total international climate finance from both public and private sources.

This discrepancy is alarming, considering smallholders’ estimated finance needs stand at a staggering USD170 billion per year in Sub-Saharan Africa alone.

A significant challenge highlighted by the report, titled “Untapped Potential,” shows a staggering 80 per cent of international public climate finance for the agri-food sector is routed through recipient governments and donor country NGOs, leaving family farmer organizations at a disadvantage due to complex eligibility rules and application processes.

Esther Penunia, Secretary General of the Asian Farmers Association, emphasized the need for a major re-think of climate finance, saying, “Generations of family farming experience and the latest scientific evidence tell us that working with nature and empowering local communities is key to safeguarding food production in a changing climate.”

Family farmers, who operate on farms of less than two hectares, contribute significantly to global food production.

They produce 32 per cent of the world’s food and over half of the global production of staple crops, while farms of 5 hectares or less account for more than half of the production of 9 essential crops.

Additionally, they grow the majority of coffee and 90 per cent of cocoa, supporting over 2.5 billion people globally.

Alberto Broch, President of the Confederation of Family Producer Organizations of Expanded Mercosur (COPROFAM), issued a clear message to governments.

“More than 600 million family farms are already engaged in building more sustainable and resilient food systems. By including their voices in decision-making and ensuring direct access to more climate finance, we can create a powerful alliance in the fight against climate change,” he said.

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