Agrifinance and conservation farming in the face of climate change

On Wednesday 12th October 2022, MicroLoan Foundation hosted a digital panel discussion on the intersection between conservation farming, food security and climate adaptation ahead of UN FAO’s World Food Day.

We know that in predominantly agrarian economies millions of families rely on a subsistence farming for household consumption and income. They often have no access to finance, training, or resources, and face unpredictable extreme weather as a result of climate change. Conservation farming can help farmers to mitigate against and adapt to the impact of climate change as well as to raise food security.

Our panel of experts are leaders in the international development and agricultural space. Their discussion will focus on the current state of conservation farming and agrifinance in relation to food security and climate mitigation as well as challenges and opportunities for the future.

We were joined by Jack Ngoma, CEO of MicroLoan Foundation Zambia, Sara Mbago-Bhunu, Director of IFAD’s East and Southern Africa Division, Irene Kadzere-Forichi, Scientist and Project Coordinator at Research Institute of Organic Agriculture, Katia Goertz, Director, International Advisory Services Department of the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management.

The panel was moderated by Rokaya Helfer, Moderator, Director, Governance & Operations at Women’s World Banking, Board Member at MicroLoan Foundation USA.

Climate change perpetuates poverty. To reduce hunger, it is essential that we upgrade and change the systems and methods of producing food for the African continent.

Women form the backbone of farm labour. They are often ill-resourced, they don’t have access to mechanisation, many are illiterate and lack financial and business skills. There is a need for disseminating information and resources digitally, for example, up to date weather forecasts so farmers can make informed decisions. There is also a need for digital financial services including access to loans and savings via mobile money.

There was a consensus on the panel that we must tackle the root causes of gender inequality. We can do this by increasing women’s access to finance and their participation in decision making, encouraging a more equitable division of labour, and freeing up time for women to be productive on the land by addressing social norms about division of caring responsibilities.

By promoting and funding ESG compliant investments there is an opportunity to encourage activities that are good for the planet. For example, financing measures that protect crops from unforeseen rainfall, or financing equipment that is used for farm tasks that women typically do.

Regenerative agriculture is key to making landscapes productive. The panel agreed that training on conservation farming techniques is key. However, this should be coupled with adequate sustainable market linkages.

Above all else, the panel emphasized the importance of partnerships along the agricultural chain and across the international development sector. We must each recognise our core competencies and work together to address the wide-ranging challenges farmers face. Only then can we hope to achieve our shared goals: No Poverty, and Zero Hunger.

Telibe is a maize farmer from Malawi. She also runs a chip shop, and owns livestock.

She has built these businesses with MicroLoan’s support. With her increased income, she can afford to feed her family nutritious meals every day.

Published on: 13/10/2022

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