Buenos Aires – The challenges being faced by small-scale farmers around world have recently been rising almost incrementally – – the food crisis and shortages; energy price hikes; and the lingering effects of the global financial and economic collapse.
However, nothing looms larger, and with dire and severe potential consequences, than unmitigated environmental threats from climate change and global warming.
For many countries in the Sahel and sub-Sahara regions in Africa, economic livelihoods are literally disappearing due to untenable and extended drought periods, encroaching desertification, soil and environmental degradation, and not in the least, unpredictable climatic patterns.
To cover the information gap about environmental effects on commodity development, the Common Fund in 2005 financed an information dissemination project to map out dry-land regions in Africa, covering several LDC member-countries, including: Burkina Faso, Chad, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gambia, Lesotho, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Niger, Senegal, Somalia, Sudan and United Republic of Tanzania.
The project’s outcome, the first African Drylands Commodity Atlas, conceived and developed with partner organizations, the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and ICRISAT was announced recently in Bonn, Germany.
In a joint statement, Amb. Ali Mchumo, Managing Director of the Common Fund and Mr. Luc Gnacadja, Executive Secretary of the UNCCD, said, “The Commodity Atlas will facilitate the on-going stakeholder dialogue process and will build consensus for commodity strategies, that integrate the trade potential of dry land commodities into relevant national policy areas and the National Action Programmes to combat desertification.”
The CFC-UNCCD-FAO joint publication was published this summer and is currently being distributed to all interested parties, as part of a public outreach campaign to raise awareness and information dissemination about desertification, climate change and implications for productivity of agricultural commodities.
The Commodity Atlas highlights the importance of commodities in the economies of Africa’s least developed countries, as well as the potential for and weaknesses of trade in Africa as result of desertification, climate change and global warming.
The official publication launch event took place 22 September 2009 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, as part of COP9-UNCCD conference, and is one of the few remaining events leading up to the Copenhagen Conference in December 2009.
Among the commodities examined using tables, maps and statistics, are citrus and non-citrus fruits, coffee, cotton, and fishery products. The Commodity Atlas also explores opportunities for reducing poverty through environmentally sustainable and economically profitable commodity production in dry lands.
With the up-coming Climate Change conference in Copenhagen in December, both CFC and UNCCD consider the African Drylands Commodity Atlas to be a crucial and indispensable tool for raising public awareness in support of capacity building in trade and market development in the affected countries.
The publication will also constitute and serve as another commodity advocacy platform for substantial and meaningful debate about the impact climate change on agricultural productivity and growth and the global agenda for sustainable development policies.
-Published 25 September 2009