AfricaRenewal : Despite climate change, Africa can feed Africa

 

Contents : Climate-stressed African agriculture -  Protecting water resources - New and better approaches - Ecosystem-based adaptation - A ray of hope - By:  Richard Munang and Jesica Andrews From Africa Renewal:  Special Edition on Agriculture 2014 , page 6  - In AfricaRenewal.

 

Climate change comes with never-before-experienced impacts. For example, crop yields and growing seasons will decrease even as changing rain patterns will worsen people’s access to water. Yet Africa’s population is projected to reach 2 billion in less than 37 years, and in 86 years three out of every four people added to the planet will be African.

Decreasing crop yields and increasing population will put additional pressure on an already fragile food production system. That is why experts have warned that if the current situation persists, Africa will be fulfilling only 13% of its food needs by 2050. This situation will further threaten about 65% of African workers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods including children and the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

Hunger already affects about 240 million Africans daily. By 2050, even a change of about 1.2 to 1.9 degrees Celsius will have increased the number of the continent’s undernourished by 25% to 95% (central Africa +25%, East Africa +50%, Southern Africa +85% and West Africa +95%). The situation will be dire for children who need proper nourishment to succeed in their education. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has estimated that African countries could lose between 2% and 16% of gross domestic product due to stunting of children as a result of malnutrition.

- See more at: http://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/special-edition-agriculture-2014/despite-climate-change-africa-can-feed-africa#sthash.DTl2C4FW.TB1KJXSG.dpuf

Climate change comes with never-before-experienced impacts. For example, crop yields and growing seasons will decrease even as changing rain patterns will worsen people’s access to water. Yet Africa’s population is projected to reach 2 billion in less than 37 years, and in 86 years three out of every four people added to the planet will be African.

 

Decreasing crop yields and increasing population will put additional pressure on an already fragile food production system. That is why experts have warned that if the current situation persists, Africa will be fulfilling only 13% of its food needs by 2050. This situation will further threaten about 65% of African workers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods including children and the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

 

Hunger already affects about 240 million Africans daily. By 2050, even a change of about 1.2 to 1.9 degrees Celsius will have increased the number of the continent’s undernourished by 25% to 95% (central Africa +25%, East Africa +50%, Southern Africa +85% and West Africa +95%). The situation will be dire for children who need proper nourishment to succeed in their education. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has estimated that African countries could lose between 2% and 16% of gross domestic product due to stunting of children as a result of malnutrition.

 

Climate-stressed African agriculture

 

Changes in climate such as higher temperatures and reduced water supplies, along with other factors like biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation, affect agriculture. According to Science, a leading international research journal, by 2030 Southern Africa and South Asia will be the two regions in the world whose crop production is most affected by climate change. For example, while wheat varieties grow well in temperatures between 15ºC and 20ºC, in sub-Saharan Africa the average annual temperature currently exceeds this mark during the growing season. Therefore, if current climate trends continue, by 2030 wheat production is likely to decline by 10% to 20% from 1998–2002 yields.

 

Food insecurity will likely lead to social unrest, as has been the case in the past. For example, between 2007 and 2008, riots took place in several countries when prices of staples peaked. In 2010, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Mozambique after wheat prices went up by 25% due to a global wheat shortage caused in part by wheat-crop-destroying wildfires from record heats in Russia. The increase in bread prices led to fires, violence, looting and even deaths.

 

Fears extend beyond wheat scarcity. The Africa Adaptation Gap Report by the UN Environment Programme, the UN organ responsible for promoting sustainable use of the environment, confirmed the World Bank’s recent findings that with warming of about 2 degrees C, all crop yields across sub-Saharan Africa will decrease by 10% by the 2050s greater warming (which is more likely) will cause crop yields to decrease by up to 15% or 20%.

 

Further bad news for African agriculture is that by the middle of this century, wheat production could decrease by 17%, maize production by 5%, sorghum production by 15% and millet production by 10%. Additionally, if climate warming exceeds 3 degrees C, all present-day cropping areas for maize, millet and sorghum will be unsuitable for those crops. The question becomes, is Africa’s agricultural system ready to respond?

 

Protecting water resources

 

Increasing crop production amidst climate change has been done before, and analysts believe that African countries need to incorporate this knowledge in their planning. They will also need to protect and fortify their water resources, which are critical to food security.

 

In the coming years, water for agriculture will be stretched to a painful extent. In Africa, 95% of agriculture relies on rainfall for water, according to the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). The World Bank notes it is very likely that by 2100 the total availability of water in all of Africa could decline by more than 10%. In addition, climate change threatens biodiversity and ecosystems, which are the foundation of agriculture.

 

Biodiversity losses and ecosystem degradation will affect the quality of the soil and the vegetation upon which livestock depends, states the World Bank, adding that potential reductions in water, biodiversity and crops should compel Africa to pay closer attention to its current food system. In short, Africa needs an approach that works with nature, not against it.

 

Please consult the Full article under the following Link: AfricaRenewal :  Despite climate change, Africa can feed Africa

 

Image credit : Parched soil by the White Nile in Khartoum, Sudan -

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