African farmers need to be ready for climate change
A recently published report has warned that, with the onset of climate change, Africa’s farmers will be unable to feed future generations if adequate investment is not provided.
The findings were compiled by experts part of the Montpellier Panel and the report, called The Farms of Change: African Smallholders Responding to an Uncertain Climate Future, said that international donors and governments needed to take action now.
Explicitly, the report recommended that leaders should acknowledge the threat climate change poses to food and nutrition security and place it at the top of the UN and national government’s agenda.
It also demanded that investment must be deployed to develop sustainable farming practices, help small holders adapt to climate change through scaling up local initiatives and increasing understanding of crops and animal husbandry.
Food shortages, malnutrition and migration will undo decades of development unless more funding is made available, the authors added.
Montpellier Panel chairman Prof Sir Gordon Conway observed: "Progress made in the last two decades to combat hunger and poverty in Africa will be irrelevant if action is not taken on climate change.
"African smallholders cannot escape poverty unless they are equipped to adapt to a changing climate - and this requires serious, large-scale investments, he added.
A 2014 African Agriculture Status Report said that food producers face the risk of being overwhelmed by the pace and severity of climate change; it called for the adoption of "climate-smart agriculture" that will help make crops more resilient to future extreme weather events.
Whether or not this is a euphemism for Genetically Modified crops remains to be seen, but the challenges facing the content may well require desperate measures. As the continent grows and global and regional populations increase, it should be on every government’s agenda to reduce waste as much as possible.
5 minutes with... Janthana Kaenprakhamroy, CEO, Tapoly
Founder and CEO of award-winning insurtech firm Tapoly, Janthana Kaenprakhamroy heads up Europe’s first on-demand insurance platform for the gig economy, winning industry awards, innovating in the digital insurance space, and leading with inclusivity.
Here, Business Chief talks to Janthana about her leadership style and skills.
What do you do, in a nutshell?
I’m founder and CEO of Tapoly, a digital MGA providing a full stack of commercial lines insurance specifically for SMEs and freelancers, as well as a SaaS solution to connect insurers with their distribution partners. We build bespoke, end-to-end platforms encompassing the whole customer journey, but can also integrate our APIs within existing systems. We were proud to win Insurance Provider of the Year at the British Small Business Awards 2018 and receive silver in the Insurtech category at the Efma & Accenture Innovation in Insurance Awards 2019.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I try to be as inclusive a leader as possible. I’m committed to creating space for everyone to shine. Many of the roles at Tapoly are performed by women and I speak at industry events to encourage more people to get involved in insurance/insurtech. Similarly, I always try to maintain a growth mindset. I think it’s important to retain values to support learning and development, like reliability, working hard and punctuality.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
Build your network and seek advice. As a leader, you need smart people around you to help you grow your business. It’s not about personally being the best, but being able to find resources and get help where needed.
How do you see leadership changing in a COVID world?
I think the pandemic has proven the importance of inclusive leadership so that everyone feels supported and valued. It’s also shown the importance of being flexible as a leader. We’ve had to remain adaptable to continue delivering high levels of customer service. This flexibility has also been important when supporting employees as everyone has had individual pressures to deal with during this time. Leaders should continue to embed this flexibility within their organisations moving forward.
They say ‘from every crisis comes opportunity’, what opportunities do you see?
The past year has been challenging, but it has also proven the importance of digital transformation in insurance. When working from home was required, it was much harder for insurers to adjust who had not embedded technology within their operating processes because they did not have data stored in the cloud and it caused communication delays with concerned customers at a time when this communication should have been a priority, which ultimately impacts the level of customer satisfaction. This demonstrates the importance of what we are trying to achieve at Tapoly in driving digitalisation in insurance and making communication between insurers and distribution partners seamless.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
Start sooner, don’t be afraid to take (calculated) risks and make sure you raise enough money to get you through the initial seed stage.