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What African Climate Experts Want You to Know ...
Africa is the continent likely to bear the brunt of the effects of climate change even though studies show it has contributed least to the crisis.
So even though Africa has released relatively small amounts of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere, those living on the continent are likely to be the victims of climate emergency disasters.
It is already suffering from extreme weather events and changes to rainfall patterns linked to climate change - leading to droughts and flooding. With a rapidly rising population, this has knock-on effects for food, poverty and gives rise to migration and conflict.
Here, five climate experts tell world leaders what to remember as they hammer out solutions to rapid climate change.
'Africa's Development is Non-Negotiable' ...
The average African uses less electricity each year than one refrigerator consumes in the US or Europe.
But this is going to grow - especially as temperatures rise - as Africans will have to have more energy to cool their homes and irrigate farms.
Africa too must be allowed to develop and build up its infrastructure - something that requires more energy.
So we must simultaneously have more power for rapid economic growth and quickly find alternatives to fossil fuels to provide this energy.
Yet African countries are being constrained by rich nations who make grand statements about their commitments while continuing to burn fossil fuels at home.
Kenya already generates a far greater share of its renewable power than the US or Europe.
While Africa welcomes partnerships, countries on the continent cannot sacrifice their ambitions. More thought needs to be given to what Africa needs in terms of industrialisation and creating jobs.
This means that richer nations need to actually reduce their own emissions and they need to live up to funding promises. In the past there have been pledges, but little upfront money.
'Donors should not dictate' ...
Climate change academics at African institutions are often not consulted by policymakers or governments on the continent.
Their research and potential solutions are shelved for too long and almost never enter into policy debates.
This fragmented approach also effects government policies. Different ministries will often be pursuing different donor-conceived ideas - with no systematic senior political co-ordination. This leads to piecemeal solutions.
So donors should not dictate policy but work more closely with governments on a co-ordinated approach.
This is a chance for Africa to think creatively about how to develop and address climate change at the same time.
'Emissions need to rise first' ...
Despite the large-scale and deep impact of climate change on Africa, the support countries are given to adjust is minimal.
Instead international partners focus on preventing or reducing the emission of greenhouse gases - three times more is spent on this.
The global consensus seems to be that all countries must quickly achieve a target of net zero - which means not adding to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere, so any emissions are balanced out by removing greenhouse gasses via plants or new technologies.
This neglects the massive development and energy challenges Africa faces. Put bluntly, emissions from the continent may need to rise significantly in the near term before they fall.
Many rich countries seem to be expecting Africa to leapfrog to clean technologies for producing energy - but are not so keen to commit the scale of investment needed to make it happen, though the recent deal for South Africa to reduce its reliance on coal is a step in the right direction.
Fossil-fuel-rich African nations do need to know that the world is changing fast and create institutions and policies to drive a transition to green energy. There are great examples in Rwanda and Ethiopia. But much more needs to be done and poor governance remains a major barrier.
'Give grants not loans' ...
Many countries in Africa already rely heavily on renewable energy - hydropower for electricity generation.
But recent droughts, such as El Niño of 2015-16, caused widespread electricity shortages.
Research shows future climate change could reduce hydropower capacity considerably in major African river basins - and hit the agricultural sector where many people are employed.
Droughts could affect Africa's hydroelectric dams
The combination of climate change and rapid urbanisation will have devastating effects.
Limiting global warming to 1.5°C would massively reduce future damage to African livelihoods, health, infrastructure, economies and ecosystems - the World Bank estimates climate change could push around 40 million more Africans into extreme poverty by 2030 if not addressed.
To achieve this requires deep emission cuts, especially from high-emitting countries outside Africa.
Yet investment to help African countries adapt to the changing weather, known as adaptation funding, is crucial.
Between 2014 and 2018 only 46% of what was committed by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries for adaptation in Africa was disbursed.
The quality of finance also matters as most of it is provided at the moment via loans rather than grants.
This means countries that have done little to cause the climate crisis are becoming further indebted to adapt to climate change.
African policymakers also need to adopt a government-wide approach so all sectors can become more climate resilient.
'Polluters must pay' ...
Vulnerable and poor African communities need help to adapt to the inevitable impact of climate change - but their voices must also be heard.
There is a lot of traditional knowledge and expertise on the ground that is ignored.
Policies are often implemented without the involvement of local communities and their buy-in.
A bottom-up approach in Africa needs to be part of a government's overall climate change policy.
And the "polluter pays principle" should be a key strategy for all governments.
Article Eight of the 2015 Paris Agreement recognises the importance of addressing the loss and damage associated with adverse effects of climate change, yet there hasn't been finance allocated for this.
Big carbon-emitting companies should be made to take responsibility and pay for the loss and damage they have caused as big polluters given they have generated profits for decades.
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All About Growing Sweet Potatoes ...
To grow sweet potatoes, begin with rooted stem cuttings, called “slips,” which sprout from the ends of stored tubers. If you want to grow your own slips, move parent potatoes to a warm room in early spring. A month before your last frost date, soak the tubers in warm water overnight, and then plant them sideways or diagonally in shallow containers, covering the tuber only halfway with sandy potting soil. After danger of frost has passed, move the sprouting sweet potatoes to a warm spot outdoors and keep them moist. When handled this way, stems (the slips) will emerge from both ends of the sweet potato, with each potato producing six or more. When the stems are more than 4 inches long and the weather is consistently warm, break off the slips from the parent sweet potatoes and plant them.Planting Sweet Potatoes ...
Sweet potatoes grow best in warm, well-drained soil with a slightly acidic pH between 5.6 and 6.5. Choose a site with fertile soil in full sun. Where summers are mild, place plastic, either black (heats soil and prevents weeds) or clear (heats more than black but does not control weeds), over the site in spring to warm the soil. Plant slips into small holes cut in the plastic, and leave plastic on the site until harvest time. Sweet potatoes benefit from a generous helping of fully rotted compost dug into the soil before planting, along with a light application of balanced organic fertilizer. Space bush-type varieties 12 inches apart, but allow 18 inches between varieties that grow long, vigorous vines. Space rows at least 3 feet apart; long-vined varieties may need even more space. Situate sweet potato slips diagonally in prepared soil, so that only the top two leaves show at the surface.
Water well and frequently for the first several days and be patient. After about two weeks, the plants should be well-rooted and showing hardy growth. For even more information on growing sweet potatoes, especially in cooler climates.Harvesting and Storing Sweet Potatoes ...
Begin checking the root size of fast-maturing varieties 90 days after planting. Sweet potatoes can be left in the ground as long as the vines are still growing and nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. One sign sweet potato plants are done growing is when the leaves and vines turn yellow. Starting from the outside of the row, loosen the soil with a digging fork before pulling up the plants by their crowns. Some sweet potato varieties develop a cluster of tubers right under the plants, but others may set roots several feet from the main clump.
Before storing sweet potatoes, you will need to cure them, a process that creates a second skin that is an incredibly effective seal. To cure sweet potatoes, gently arrange them in a single layer in a warm, humid place where temperatures can be held at 80 degrees for seven to 10 days. In warm climates, a well-ventilated outbuilding is ideal. In cooler climates, a bathroom or closet with a space heater makes a good curing place (put a bucket of water in the room to increase humidity). Another option is to place jugs of hot water in a large cooler with your tubers; add new hot water to the jugs daily to keep the space warm and humid.
After curing, choose damage-free sweet potatoes for long-term storage in a dry place where temperatures will stay between 55 and 65 degrees. The flavor and nutritional content of sweet potatoes improves after a couple of months of storage. If conditions are ideal, well-cured sweet potatoes will store for up to 10 months.Pest and Disease Prevention Tips ...
Slightly acidic soil conditions help suppress sweet potato diseases, and the plants’ lush vine growth naturally smothers many weeds. Rotating sweet potatoes with grains, cowpeas or marigolds helps prevent disease problems, especially from root-knot nematodes, which infect tomatoes, peppers and many root crops. Avoid growing sweet potatoes in areas recently covered with grass, because ground-dwelling grubs and wireworms — often numerous in grass-covered soils — chew holes and grooves into the tubers. Deer love to eat sweet potato leaves, so you may need row covers or other deterrents. Stored sweet potatoes are a favorite of hungry mice, so stash your harvest in a secure location.Growing Tips ...
Some sweet potato varieties produce morning glory-type flowers in late summer, followed by tiny seeds. Plant breeders work with the seeds, but for gardeners, propagating sweet potatoes by growing them from slips is more practical.
With adequate moisture, shabby-looking slips usually recover quickly.
You can also increase your supply of plants by taking 4-inch-long stem-tip cuttings, clipping off all but the top two leaves, and rooting the cuttings in moist potting soil.In the Kitchen ...
Sweet potatoes can be baked, boiled, mashed or used in stir-fries. Cooked, mashed sweet potato can be substituted for pumpkin in any recipe, and few desserts are as nutritious as sweet potato pie. In breads and puddings, use cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves or orange to add complexity to sweet potato flavor. In savory dishes, sweet potatoes’ flavor is enhanced by a range of spices, including garlic, ginger and curry, and sweet potato salads can carry big handfuls of chopped parsley or cilantro. Thin slices of sweet potato are great for grilling, or you can make sweet potato chips in a hot oven. Don’t overlook the new leaves on stem tips, which make excellent cooked greens.