Togo is one of the Sub-Saharan African’s most vulnerable countries affected by climate change. This severely affects poor farmers and smallholders living in rural areas. Their agricultural productions have dropped terribly and they are now in a worry as the situation is driven them into poverty.
According to a recent study, ‘climate change projections for Sub-Saharan African countries point to a warming trend, particularly in the inland subtropics; frequent occurrence of extreme heat events; increasing aridity; and changes in rainfall—with a particularly pronounced decline in southern Africa and an increase in East Africa.’
'We are desperate' cries Gnizim Atto, a Togolese young farmer who is awaiting rain. ‘We are in the rainy season, but since four months, we didn’t get rain’, he complained, adding that ’it is causing planting delay for him’.
He owned about one hundred hectares of agricultural land and this year particularly he is worrying a lot as he borrowed three million francs CFA from a financial institution to increase his agricultural production. ‘I do not know yet how I am going to pay back that money’, he said.
Partial view of Gnizim Atto's farm
Like Gnizim, climate change is badly affecting many farmers and smallholders living in the northern part of Togo, causing long periods of drought and reducing rainfall. They said this situation is critical because, without rain, the seeds cannot grow and are condemn to get spoiled.
In March 2018, during a workshop organised by the Togolese Ministry of Environment and Forest Resources, Togbui Passah Folly VIII, chief canton of Tsévié, a town located at 30 km from Lome (Togo’s capital), has confessed that rains are no longer common in his canton.
"In January, it should normally rain." But due to the rain delay, "the farmers were not able to weed in time and make seeds in time" he lamented before stressing that the situation does not make optimistic smallholders.
Three years ago, in 2015, during the COP21, the Togolese president, Faure Gnassingbe, had recognised that “Togo is passing through catastrophes situations due to impacts of climate change”. And since he has launched several ongoing initiatives in response to the effects of climate variability and deregulation.
But according to Togbui Passah Folly VIII, those initiatives seem insufficient to help tackle climate risks, especially in reducing poverty and food security. He appealed the government to help Togo reduce its vulnerability to climate change.
Not only climate change is affecting agricultural production, but according to Etsè Kodjo Kadévi, prefect of the ZIO, it also has major negative impacts on forest, forest resources and Togolese biodiversity.
For Gnizim Atto who is also one of the Togolese entrepreneurs who had benefited from the National Rural Entrepreneurship Project (PNPER) financed by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), ‘If the government does not respond urgently to the challenges of climate changes, there would not be any perspective of future for farmers’.
Commenting on the issue, Peleï Yao, the chief canton of Sotouboua, a town located at 300 miles of Lome, advised the Togolese government to invest in large-scale infrastructures projects that will supply water for farmers even in the dry season.
Gnizim Atto on his farm.