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Climate change sends Africa’s agricultural extension officers back to school (Thomson Reuters Foundation)
This article was originally published by Thomson Reuters Foundation. Read the excerpt and click the link below for the full article.
Climate change sends Africa’s agricultural extension officers back to school
By Busani Bafana
GABORONE, Botswana (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – In his home country of Mozambique, Micas Luis is a darling of the farmers he advises on how best to grow their crops and vegetables.
An award-winning agricultural extension officer, Luis is considered a walking encyclopedia on all matters agricultural. But in the area of climate change he confesses he falls short.
“Climate change is a new challenge facing farmers, and I have to learn about it,” said Luis, while attending a regional symposium for agricultural extension and advisory service providers, held in Botswana. “With my current knowhow I cannot answer questions posed by farmers who are grappling with a rise in pests, diseases, poor rainfall and flash floods in my country.”
Smallholder farmers, who keep Africa fed, need extension officers who are well informed about climate change, as its impacts – already being witnessed in more extreme and erratic weather – threaten the continent’s food security.
Knowledge of climate change among agricultural information providers was a key topic for discussion at the first ever Africa Extension Week, which took place in Gaborone, Botswana’s capital, earlier in August.
Researchers and extension practitioners spoke of a huge knowledge gap, not just on the links between climate change and agricultural policies but on the phenomenon of climate change itself.
According to the African Forum for Agricultural Advisory Services (AFAAS), an umbrella body for providers, there is a greater need than ever before for extension officers to adapt their knowledge to the new climate threats faced by farmers.
Image source: TRF/Busani Bafana