Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana. File Image: IOL
JOHANNESBURG  - The National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) has warned that the devastating effects of climate change would be massive if global warming is not adequately addressed in the country.

Daff director-general Michael Mlengana said the department had adopted Climate Smart Agriculture as a flagship programme to promote and upscale sustainable agriculture production while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Delivering the keynote address at the climate smart approaches seminar of the 8th BRICS Meeting of the Agriculture Cooperation Working Group in Skukuza, Mpumalanga, yesterday (TUES), Mlengana said the economies of agriculture-dependent provinces such as Mpumalanga would struggle if contingency measures were not implemented urgently.

“The reality facing us today is that effects of climate change on agriculture are quite severe,” he admitted.

Mpumalanga is known as SA’s home of agriculture with nearly 68 percent of its land used to plant agricultural crops, subtropical and deciduous fruit, vegetables and cotton, among others.

Another sizeable part of the province’s fertile agricultural land is used by mining conglomerates for extensive coal and platinum production operations.

Mlengana said climate change would impose itself if it was not placed at the centre of the developmental agenda.

He called on his BRICS counterparts to coordinate efforts to mitigate risks associated with global warming.

“Weather forecasting must inform our developmental agenda so that as we plan into the future we put climate change and smart methodology of development at the centre,” he said.

“Let’s work as a collective and come with strategies to sustain food security in a cohesive manner. My department is working hard to eliminate the risks associated with climate change.”

Agricultural attache at the Embassy of Brazil in Pretoria, Jesulindo Nery De Souza Junior, said Brazil firmly believed that scientific and technological development, coupled with sound implementation strategies, was key to ensure the proper balance between production, resilience and emissions of greenhouse gases in the agricultural sector.

“It is paramount to align national priorities to address the vulnerability of the agricultural sector to the adverse impacts of climate change, and to promote adaptation as well as to contribute to food security,” he said

“Brazil believes that the BRICS cooperation on agriculture could play an important role to broader the perception of benefits, as well as co-benefits, associated with the implementation of sustainable agriculture practices.”

Tianyu Zhang, a senior project officer at the Foreign Economic Cooperation Centre of the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, said they would deepen multilateral and bilateral policy dialogue in order to address climate change

“We have enhanced South-South cooperation on climate change by establishing a South-South cooperation fund and by providing assistance and support to least developed and developing countries and regions,” she said.

- BUSINESS REPORT