by Cecilia Schubert
Cassava has long been understood as being one of the most resilient crops in the tropics, surviving in a challenging environment that is both hot and dry. Impressive as this is, new research from the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) points to cassava actually thriving in a warmer climate, making it the “Rambo of food crops”. The newly released research results have been published in a special edition of the scientific journal Tropical Plant Biology where it concludes that the cassava root will come to brush off the expected temperature rises of up to 2 degrees Celsius in Africa by 2030 and could even prove to be more productive thanks to the warming climate. Seeing that it very seldom happens, climate change could prove to bring something positive to the region for a change. Read more »
by Ousmane Ndiaye and Robert Zougmoré
Seasonal climate forecasts could have considerable potential to improve agricultural management and livelihoods for smallholder farmers. But constraints related to legitimacy, salience, access, understanding, capacity to respond and data scarcities have so far limited the widespread use and benefit from seasonal predictions in the Sahel region. The existing constraints reflect inadequate information services, policies or institutional process in the region, however there are great potential in overcoming them. One trend is that regional climate outlook forums and national meteorological services have been at the forefront to provide forecast information for agriculture to rural farmers. One example of this is the communication workshop on probabilistic seasonal climate forecast, held in Senegal last year and supported by CCAFS. As part of the work on providing farmers with forecasts, a follow up workshop was held in late January to see how farmers used the information in their agricultural practices and what needs to be further improved. Read more »
by Joost Vervoort
The need for strategic, concerted action for improved food security, environments and livelihoods in the developing world is a major challenge. We live in a time when changing conditions and risks associated with climate change interact with rapid political, economic and social changes in the world's vulnerable regions.
Attempts to predict future changes in such complex, rapidly changing conditions are extremely difficult if not impossible. Illusions of predictability are potentially dangerous. Still, governments and non-state actors alike must think and act strategically in the face of uncertainty.
Yesterday we launched a series of reports which look at the effectiveness of global climate models in predicting agricultural impacts in Africa and South Asia, with a particular emphasis on their ability to predict how climate change will affect key crops in those regions. The results are not surprising: we don't have perfect climate projections for agriculture, and in many cases, the data is quite weak. So what can we do about it?
In a live video seminar yesterday, lead authors Mark New from the University of Cape Town and Richard Washington from Oxford University, noted the weaknesses and emphasized that in some cases, a variety of models can be used together to overcome individual weaknesses. This approach, however, requires quite a lot of time and effort. On the bright side, the authors noted that more and more information is becoming available. The studies also highlight where models need further development, providing a useful guide for research investments. In case you missed it you can still watch a recording of the session.
The overarching message is that this uncertainty not an excuse for inaction. In response to yesterday's report, our colleagues at CIAT have published an insightful analysis of the role of uncertainty. Rather than being something that dogs climate science, uncertainty must be perceived as a basic feature and can even be a positive driver: Read more »
Gaby Kissinger reports from the International Conference on Climate Change, Sustainable Agriculture and Public Leadership in New Delhi, India, where she shared ideas to promote local, Indian national and international leadership in adapting smallholder farming to climate change.
India is already demonstrating tangible leadership in national, regional and local efforts to promote adaptation to climate change, particularly considering the vulnerability of smallholder producers. However, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change processes still needs to define opportunities for mitigation and adaptation. How can India show international leadership in adapting smallholder farming to climate change while continuing the positive efforts at the local and national levels?
The International Conference on Climate Change, Sustainable Agriculture and Public Leadership (7-9 February 2012), brought together a range of people from national governments, and international and national research organisations to discuss these issues.
by Vanessa Meadu
Today, CGIAR climate change, agriculture and food security innovations are being shared with Japanese researchers at the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Research Council Secretariat in the city of Tsukuba.
Dr. Eva Wollenberg, who leads the CGIAR Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research on pro-poor climate change mitigation, and Dr. Ruben Echeverría, Director General of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture - CIAT will present ongoing work and key findings from the CCAFS program and its international partners. CIAT is the lead centre for the CCAFS program, headquartered in Cali, Colombia.
The session also will include presentations from Japanese scientists currently undertaking work on climate change and agriculture that could potentially contribute to research efforts in developing countries.
One of the objectives of the visit is to strengthen research links between Japan and the international agricultural research community working on climate change and food security. The CGIAR has had a long and productive history working with Japanese partners on a range of initiatives. Read more »
New Reports Offer Insight into Reliability of Future Climate Projections for Agriculture
By Laura Cramer
What effect will rising temperatures and changes in precipitation have on the ability of farmers to grow crops and feed the earth’s growing human population in the coming decades? Three new regionally focused reports explore this question in detail, with a particular focus on those aspects of climate change that will have greatest impact on the crops currently grown in each region: West Africa, East Africa, and the Indo-Gangetic Plains (IGP). The studies tested General Circulation Models (GCMs) by having them predict already-observed climate conditions, in order to establish the reliability of future climate projections. The studies also tested how well the models perform at predicting how associated crops might grow under future conditions. The reports were produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) and the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University, and looks at the CCAFS program's target regions.
In a harsh and unpredictable environment, reliable weather information is crucial for farmers to successfully grow their crops. By studying a successful weather information program in Mali, climate adaptation researchers and agencies are hoping to learn how to best deploy similar programs in the region, to help reduce the risks faced by smallholder farmers. Highlighted by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) in November, the Mali Meteorological Program has since 1982 shared weather information with over 2500 farmers. As a result, farmers are reporting increased yields and willingness to invest in new technologies.
CCAFS, together with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), the Institute for Rural Economy of Mali (IER) and sub-regional partners (AGRHYMET) recently engaged in a three-day training workshop on the assessment methodology of the Mali Meteorological Program. The Mali meeting kicked off the next few months of survey work; a team will be speaking to the people involved in the project to discover the keys to its success and how similar initiatives could potentially be implemented elsewhere. Read more »
by Jeremy Cherfas, Bioversity International.
A new climate change tool will not only help farmers to prepare for the future, it may also spur implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture.
Although 127 countries rushed to ratify the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, far fewer have implemented it in national law. The reasons are many, and one that comes up often is that lawmakers don’t actually understand its importance. A planning meeting for a new Bioversity project, Strengthening National Capacities to Implement the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, funded by the Dutch government, heard this over and over again from representatives of the eight countries taking part in the project. But the meeting also heard about a new tool that could help to raise awareness - the Climate Analogue Tool.
Do you like data and the environment? If yes, then this ongoing competition just might be for you! The World Bank has recently released new data and tools on climate change and is challenging you to develop software applications related to climate change submitted before 16 March 2012. The applications should serve to raise awareness, measure progress, or to help in some other way to address the development challenges of climate change. Read more »
CCAFS Coordinating Unit - University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Science, Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences, Rolighedsvej 21, DK-1958 Frederiksberg C, Denmark, phone +45 35331046; Email ccafs [at] cgiar [dot] org, EAN 5790000279012
Lead Center - International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)