Too ignorant to secure African foods and livelihoods for the future?

Amazon - Brazil, 2011. ©Neil Palmer/CIAT

Are stereotyped perceptions about e.g. edible insects a bane to their promotion as supplementing food sources?

To the true politician, climate change can never be human aggravated for the demands it would make on the national coffers. However, the politician goes to his/her village where he/she grew up and finds all the mushrooms and snails which he/she used to collect freely completely nonexistent; all the ponds and pools in which he/she used to take occasional bath completely died up. That is when the reality of what he/she has been denying or lying about in political campaigns hits or dawns on him. It is a truth he/she can only admit to him/herself in the solitude of his/her home and not in any other somewhat public place. However, regardless of the extent of denial, climate change and its associated impacts on food and livelihood security is and would forever remain a real happening which would require only conscientious informed efforts to grapple with.

Talking of efforts, what efforts then could be deemed as conscientious informed? Ever since climate change became widely accepted as a human-worsened phenomenon that needed immediate and serious concerted attention, all manner of stakeholders, both national and international, came up in a so-deemed conscientious effort, by way of consortia and fora to deal with it. However, we all know that very little in terms of real milestones have been achieved with this so-called conscientious efforts. This is simply because such efforts were never guided by accurate information/knowledge to preclude of limit error or uncertainty.

No venture has been known to succeed amidst unreasonable degrees of freedom. Thus, the need for better guided efforts which we call conscientious informed efforts in which multi-stakeholder approaches are used in applying practical lessons from existing or previous practices in relevant geographical areas. A laudable one would be my paper titled “Which strategies effectively harness ecosystems functions and services to mitigate and adapt to climate change for food security in Africa?” put together towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals beyond 2015 in Africa and other tropical environments which have similar geographies.

In this paper, we review the ecological approaches generally in use in wider agro-ecological zones of Ghana such as the moist semi-deciduous and Guinea Savanna, which are also found in other parts of Africa and the tropics. Further, we point out challenges and opportunities that are most likely to arise in meeting the Sustainable Development Goals beyond 2015 in these geographies.

For example, indigenous strategies/knowledge is locality specific and embedded in eco-socio-politico-econo-cultural systems, norms and values which could often be a barrier to effective sharing, modernization, replication and up scaling, however ICT, performing arts and participatory consultation present opportunities to overcome this barrier.

Majority of ecosystems predictors are only able to predict immediate to short term happenings than medium to long term ones, nevertheless, the morphology, the length of presence or absence of certain endemic species present opportunities to predict medium to long term happenings.

Lack of adequate evidence on the colonising potentials of new/improved crop varieties poses a risk of species extinction, nonetheless, increased use of traditional crop varieties and the establishment of genetic banks constitutes an opportunity.

Also, lack of clear policies that adequately specify the rights and benefits of farmers and other stakeholders for fair Payment for Ecosystems Services (PES) initiatives may discourage sustainable tree planting and maintenance, however, clear policies that adequately specify the rights and benefits of all stakeholders represents a great prospect.

Stereotyped perceptions about edible insects, shoots and other species and lack of well-established markets for them, are a bane to their promotion for supplementing food sources for food security, however, education of tropical populations on the nutritional values of such species offers untold opportunity.

Whatever disagreements some of our arguments may attract, we strongly belief that it is in the pragmatic learning of such lessons that Africa and like environments can arrive at workable efforts (programs, projects, actions, interventions) to ensure real foods and livelihoods security for the populations of the foreseeable future.

Blogpost submitted by Akwasi Asamoah (Ghana) – asamoah38(at)
Picture courtesy Neil Palmer (CIAT)

The content, structure and grammar is at the discretion of the author only.

This post is published as entry #26 of our #Forests2015 blog competition. It is submitted in the “Open” category.

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