COP 15: FAO wants change in agric production patterns

APA - Abidjan (Cote d’Ivoire)

The Food and Agricultural Organisation is proposing agroforestry as a major solution.

The FAO, whose high-level delegation took part in the COP 15 in Abidjan, calls for a rethinking of agricultural production methods in the face of desertification and soil degradation.

Assessing the COP 15, held in Abidjan from 9 to 20 May 2022, Ms. Vera Boerger, of the Land and Water Division of the Climate and Biodiversity Department of FAO, described the event as a success.

Ms. Vera Boerger said, “we need smarter and more integrated agriculture” in the face of desertification and drought. 

This, she said, was explained to more than 500 people who were interested in the FAO stand.

She welcomed the fact that the Ivorian Prime Minister, Patrick Achi, visited the FAO stand on Wednesday, May 18, 2022. 

The organization, which supports institutional projects, is seeking resources from donors to support states in terms of technicality and assist communities. 

“We have worked with many partners and presented experiences in different countries,” she added, while insisting that FAO works with different governments, ministries and communities in decision-making.

Mr. Samy Gaiji, FAO representative in Cote d’Ivoire, referred to the alert of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) that reports “an increase of 1.5 degrees to 3 degrees” of the temperature of the planet that is going straight against the wall. 

Cases of extreme temperatures are currently witnessed in Asia, as well as in Europe, where there is a heat wave, he noted, before adding that this week, in Iraq, there was a sandstorm.

“We are in a situation where here in Cote d’Ivoire, we must adapt strategies and agricultural practices that allow us to take into account the dimension of the increase in temperature of the earth" he added.     

Cote d’Ivoire is the world’s leading producer of cocoa with 2.2 million tons. 

This cash crop is grown in the open by way of intensive cultivation. 

The FAO proposes agroforestry as a major solution.

According to Mr. Samy Gaiji, cocoa is a fruit tree that grows under the shade of trees. 

Because of this, the cocoa tree has a preference to grow under a vegetation cover, so “we can no longer continue to plant cocoa in the open air.”

Sensitive to heat, in its first years of growth, the cocoa tree can die under the high heat. 

With global warming, Samy said agroforestry will allow cocoa to grow well, but also to have a more sustainable production.

In the long term, if there is no paradigm shift, “we risk land degradation, soil impoverishment and water stress,” which will cause cocoa production to fall, he said.  

He claimed that “agroforestry provides shade, which reduces the temperature at the level of cocoa production, increases humidity, (from which) there is less evapotranspiration, the advantage, being the fertilization of the soils and an enrichment of the soils brought by the forest.

The farmer who does agroforestry has a good production, but can also benefit from the value of the species planted, he stressed. 

Today, FAO Cote d’Ivoire is working on agroforestry, zero deforestation cocoa and soil restoration.

“For this set of solutions we are at more than 20 million dollars,” he said. 

The FAO also recommends climate-smart agriculture and agro-ecology, especially in northern Cote d’Ivoire where 90 percent of the soil has lost its freshness.

Ms. Anne-Marie NDa mentioned that in Senegal, “the project of 1,000 tanks” of the Head of State, is being implemented in Cote d’Ivoire (Bondoukou, Bouna). 

These are water catchment cisterns that allow for market gardening, for example. 

The FAO said it is committed to providing full support to the Abidjan legacy program at COP 15. 

The organization was the “first to invest financially in technical support,” releasing internal money to help start this initiative.

In the first week of COP 15, FAO, in the presence of its Deputy Director-General Maria Helena Semedo, signed with the Ivorian Minister of State, Minister of Agriculture, Mr. Adjoumani Kouassi, “a $5.3 million contract on agroforestry in cocoa production.”


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