US to aid African farmers facing climate challenge

Investments worth $140m drawn up spur to climate-resilient agriculture following Obama visit to Kenya

Silhouette of President Obama as he is cheered bby South African fans before speaking at Nelson Mandela's memorial in 2013 (Flickr/ White House, Pete Souza)

Silhouette of President Obama as South African fans cheer him before speaking at Nelson Mandela’s memorial in 2013 (Flickr/ White House, Pete Souza)

By Alex Pashley

The United States has announced boosts for African smallholders grappling with climate change-induced droughts through a global hunger initiative.

The Feed the Future programme will invest $140 million to “support partnerships to produce, market, and utilize climate-resilient seeds”, according to a White House fact sheet on Tuesday.

It targets improvements in yields of maize, legumes, rice and wheat in 11 African countries, and benefit over 11 m households across the continent by 2018.

The move comes after President Barack Obama visit to Kenya, where he stressed the country’s commitment to reducing malnutrition and poverty through development initiatives.

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Bands of Africa are exposed to the onset of climate change, as more severe droughts, and desertification hit harvests and displace populations. Humanitarian crises in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa are linked to a warming planet.

Rich countries have committed to give financial aid to poor countries to adapt to climate change and provide technologies to reduce their emissions of greenhouse gases.

The White House said Feed the Future-supported farmers experienced more than $500 m in new agricultural sales, a threefold increase on a year earlier, and more than 12 million were “reached with nutrition interventions.”

Through its development agency, USAID, the US would widen resilience programmes in the Sahel, such as Niger and Burkino Faso, raising the total committed to $290 million over 5 years.

The country was also linking with African countries ahead of a Paris climate summit to “reach a successful outcome”.

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