FARMERS have been advised to adapt to climate change and technology to meet the food demands of Lesotho’s growing population.
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Head of Programs Mr Mokitinyane Nthimo made the appeal during the recent World Food Day commemorations in Mokhotlong.
Mr Nthimo said it was imperative for farmers to find ways to adapt their agricultural methods to climate change because the phenomenon could not be avoided.
World Food Day is commemorated globally every year on 16 October in remembrance of the establishment of the FAO in 1945. It is also a day for raising awareness on food-related issues and taking stock of progress made towards reducing poverty and fighting hunger throughout the world.
This year’s theme focused on the need for agriculture to change in response to the changing climate, recognising that it would be impossible to achieve food security for all and eradicate hunger, malnutrition and poverty without adapting to changing climate.
Mr Nthimo said Lesotho had already suffered the effects of climate change and therefore people could not afford to sit and watch while the country experienced drought.
“There are technologies to ensure there is food all year round as we cannot have people suffer misery caused by drought. Something can be done to fight hunger and poverty,” Mr Nthimo said, adding they had distributed handouts to guide the public on adapting to climate change.
He said greenhouses and water harvesting strategies could be used to ensure there was always water for crops even after the rainy season.
According to a recent FAO press release, Lesotho is still battling to manage the impact of last year’s El-Nino induced drought. The Lesotho Vulnerability Assessment Committee (LVAC) Report released in May 2016 estimates that 680 000 people were in need of humanitarian assistance until the next harvest in May 2017.
The frequency of such devastating weather patterns was likely to increase with time and this demanded changes in the way the country conducted agriculture.
It was also noted that significant improvements in food security as well as resilience to climate change could be achieved through the introduction of sustainable agricultural practices.
FAO therefore urged the country’s agriculture sector to implement programmes that focused on climate change adaptation, including climate smart agriculture to improve resilience to climate-induced shocks and its impact on household food security.
It said such programmes were essential for Lesotho at a time when national production of the staple maize crop did not meet demand and where the nutrition situation was critical with more than 33 percent of children under the age of five experiencing stunted development.