By Joshua Isaac

Integrating livestock into farms by using their organic waste, practicing crop rotation, and agroforestry among other practices that constitute regenerative agriculture, is the way to go if Africa is to realize food security and combat climate change.

Tennyson Williams, regional director, World Animal Protection (WAP)—an international animal welfare advocacy organization- said at the Climate Change and Food Systems Transformation forum in Nairobi, Kenya. The organization convened the event in collaboration with the University of Nairobi.

He pointed out the need for sustainable agricultural practice as the long-term solution to food security, noting, “Adoption of sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices holds the key to climate resilience, food security, and better health outcomes for African smallholder farmers who produce 70 percent of the food that we consume.”

Regenerative agriculture is a conservation and rehabilitation approach to food and farming systems. It focuses on topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, improving the water cycle, enhancing ecosystem services, supporting biosequestration, increasing resilience to climate change, and boosting soil fertility.

Tennyson Williams, regional director, World Animal Protection (WAP)

He also underscored the need to transform the broken food system to create a humane global system that puts animals first. This includes upholding their welfare such as the right to a free environment as opposed to factory farming- a system that involves keeping animals indoors, often with very little space, and giving them special foods so that they grow more quickly or produce more eggs, milk, or meat.

A WAP study shows that factory farming contributes at least 11 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, accelerating climate change. The rise in antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and zoonosis are also attributed to it.

As per reports by the World Economic Forum, three-quarters of antibiotics are used in livestock, leading to the declining effectiveness of medicines to treat bacterial infections and the transmission of diseases from animals to human beings.

Daniel Olago, director of the University of Nairobi’s Institute for Climate Change and Adaptation (ICCA), said policy reforms combined with research and knowledge dissemination are essential to promoting the adoption of regenerative farming that is key to addressing Africa’s hunger crisis, propelled by recurrent drought and loss of soil fertility.

According to him, regenerative agriculture will be of significance for African farmers to adapt to the changes in climate, on whom it has a massive impact.

Michael Okumu, deputy director in charge of climate change at the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, said Kenya has domiciled food systems transformation within the national climate change strategy in a bid to curb the emission of planet-warming gases, conserve habitats, and boost the resilience of local communities.

The day-long regional workshop on the nexus between climate change and the transformation of food systems emphasized the need for Africa to move swiftly, in the shift to regenerative agriculture as a way of combating climate change.

Panel discussions on What Kenya is doing towards climate change, agriculture, and food security; Scaling Up Climate Finance Innovation and Access for Agri-Food Systems Transformation; and The Role of Research and Think Tanks in Provision of Data for Sustainable Food Production also took center stage at the event.