What Are The Impacts Of African Climate Change On Crops? – If You Don’t Know, Now You Know!

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Climate change is rapidly increasing all over the world. Meanwhile, in Africa, it has become a significant concern for crops. Major crops like maize, common bean and coffee may be affected badly due to the daily increasing changes in the climate. 

Read: African Countries Have The Will to Adjust Horticulture to Environmental Change

While analyzing the previous few years, we come across a clear pattern: within the last 30 years, climate change has reduced food production between 1-5% for each decade around the world. Today, mounting evidence points in a close direction for long-term food production.

Even at relatively lower levels of warming, i.e., keeping in the 2-degree target, farming productivity will likely decline within the absence of adaptation. Tropical food crops such as maize and grains, usually grown in already vulnerable areas in Central and South America, Sub-Saharan Africa, and Parts of Asia, will particularly end up being negatively affected.

In order to get ready for the globe’s glaring climatic changes and ensure guidelines and programs deal with food security requirements, policy-makers have to receive context-specific environment data and details that they can use. Here, spelling out the various climate-related impacts on vegetation, and several of the available adaptation measures, is the very first step to generate more climate-resilient food methods.

A newly released Working Paper by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) provides a summary of projected climate change impacts on crop production plus suitability having a specific focus on Africa. Authors have utilized a variety of literature evaluation, models, and fresh data analysis.

The paper ‘Climate change impacts on African crop production’ (PDF) analyses nine staple crops grown in Africa: maize, common bean, cassava, sorghum, yam, finger millet, pearl millet, groundnut, and banana, also including the cash-crop coffee.

The conclusions bring valuable ideas that can help African countries adjust their agriculture production to an altering climate. Authors furthermore conclude that in spite of inherent uncertainties in producing climate predictions for crops, the majority of the expected impacts, if no adaptation measures are implemented, are substantial.

The paper shows that typical bean, maize, banana, and finger millet are projected to be able to reduce their appropriate areas significantly (30-50%) across the region, and may need some kind of adaptation plan or get replaced with other plants. On the country level, West African nations in or close to the Sahel are projected as the most negatively impacted with 70% decreases in suitable areas regarding the nine crops.

Read: Climate Change in African Countries and How Low Earning Farmers Can Implement Irrigation System

On the other hand, sorghum, cassava, yam, and pearl millet show possibly little area loss or even gains in suitable areas. Suitability projections recommend that opportunities may possibly arise from broadening cropping areas in certain countries in addition to regions: cassava production may move towards more temperate regions in Southern Africa, and yam appropriateness outside West Africa may increase.

Common Bean

The common bean is an essential source of nutrition and food security for many countries located in Africa. However, the common bean yield is usually also highly sensitive to climate change. Substantial yield deficits for the common beans in most of sub-Saharan Africa have been projected for a range of different scenarios regarding the current millennium. Recent work on common beans in the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) shows a potential game-changer in fresh breeding experiments. For a few 50% bean developing areas where temperature stress is typically the major constraint, beans that can endure up to +3 ºC, which have been successfully bred in greenhouse tests, could carry East African common beans throughout the whole of the 21st century under most climate scenarios.

Coffee

Arabica coffee producers may soon have to search for alternate growing areas as environmental changes will lead to changes inappropriateness in major developing countries in eastern Africa. In Mozambique, Uganda, and Tanzania, suitability will practically disappear for Arabica coffee production (>  50% reduction), suitability in Burundi and Rwanda will certainly reduce significantly (20-50% reduction), plus the least significant (but still noticeable) negative effects on Kenya and Ethiopia ( < 15% reduction). For Robusta coffee, impacts will certainly not be as massive as for Arabica coffee.

With regard to global coffee producer East Africa, environment change will most likely lead to two parallel events for:

  1. An overall decrease in arabica growing areas accompanied by immigration and hence attention towards higher altitudes, and 
  2. An alternative of heat-stressed arabica areas ( < 1, 500 meters above sea level) by the even more heat-tolerant robusta.

Maize

Maize is a  vulnerable crop. Study shows that geographically, the majority (~90%) of currently cropped maize area is projected to encounter negative impacts, together with production reductions within the range 12-40%. West African nations will, in particular, go through the adverse effects, with mean losses between 20 and 40% by 2050s, while some other countries, such as Kenya, Mozambique, Botswana, will face fewer severe reductions in production. With maize being one of the greatest resources of calories, whilst being grown over the most significant area within the continent, adaptation steps, especially for the Sahel, are crucial. 

Read: Best Plant Protection Practices to Boost the Yield Per Acre in Maize Crop

Conclusion

Different studies and researches conducted recently show that if no step is taken right now, climate change and affect the crops in Africa in a brutal way. This is terrible news for those who earn a living through these crops. Food security is an important thing to consider, and the current climate conditions prove to be risky for it.

If no proper step is taken right now, the coming years may prove to be worst for African crops such as coffee, maize, common beans, and their yields. These crops are relatively healthy and abundant in nutrients. Therefore, we can’t afford to lose them or their benefits. The government and authorities should come up with a strategy to control or cope with the climate changes so that it does not impact African crops and households. 

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