The family farming network Saai will play a central role in the negotiations on climate issues during the COP27 climate summit, which takes place from 5 to 27 November in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt. With its focus on agriculture and food systems, this is the first Climate Change Conference (COP) to take place in Africa since 2011. More than 70 agricultural leaders from all over the world have been invited to attend the event.
As the representative of South African farmers at the World Agricultural Organisation, Saai will play a leading role in the policy discussions and negotiations on agricultural issues. The voice of South African producers will be heard over the next two weeks in more than 30 meetings on topics such as adaptability, methane gas emissions from ruminants, taxes and tariffs on meat, wool and peat, carbon credits, new production technology and traceability.
According to dr Theo de Jager, Chairperson of the Board of Saai, COP27 is the first COP that will focus specifically on food systems, and it is a priority to position farmers at the centre of policy formation on climate issues. “For farmers, this is probably the most important COP ever,” he says.
De Jager also serves as chairperson of the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), a non-profit network of African governments and support bases that enjoy diplomatic status in South Africa and will also lead the FANRPAN delegation to COP27.
According to Francois Rossouw, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Saai, the Karoo has experienced the worst drought ever in the past eight years. Together with the unprecedented floods in KwaZulu-Natal, this has once again shown South African agriculture how at the mercy of and vulnerable farmers are to climate fluctuations. “It is crucial to us as South African farmers that we have a place around the negotiating table to state and defend the farmers’ interests there.”
Saai and Akademia intend to organise a climate summit in early 2023 and genuine South African research will be discussed there with the content of COP27.