by Sonja Vermeulen
Speak with one voice on agriculture! Such is the call of Tina Joemat-Pettersson, the South African Minister of Agriculture, to her peers across the continent as Durban hosts “Africa’s COP”. But should this unified voice emphasize vulnerability and negative impacts, or opportunity and potential?
The scientific consensus to date is that African agriculture will be hard hit by climate change. The last IPCC report concluded that some African countries might see yields of rainfed crops fall by 50% as soon as 2020; a more recent review has confirmed “high confidence” that agricultural production will be “severely compromised” across much of Africa during the 21st century. However, one shortcoming of most models and statistical studies is – as their authors readily acknowledge – that they do not take into account how farmers, markets and governments adapt to change. Read more »
For cassava, a root crop of South American origin that is grown across the tropics, substantial increases in rainfall—predicted for nearly half of the world's cassava growing area—are a primary cause for alarm. Zoom into a map of current climate constraints (water-logging stress) of cassava in South America.
This research comes from new studies on "climate proofing" key crops across the tropics by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), which highlight how climate change will impact crops that are critical to food security in the developing world, and what adaptation strategies can help reduce these impacts. Read more »
For most crops, "plant breeding will probably be the cornerstone" of climate change adaptation, says Stephen Beebe, a scientist from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) who co-authored new studies on "climate proofing" key crops across the tropics. The studies by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) highlight how climate change will impact crops that are critical to food security in the developing world, and what adaptation strategies can help reduce these impacts. Read more »
For bananas and plantains, climate change may significantly alter both yields as well as vulnerability to diseases, which would affect the food security and incomes of millions of Africans and Latin Americans. The East African Highland Banana, for example, is a starchy staple for 80 million people in Africa alone. Zoom in to see area harvested (2009) for the East Africa highland banana.
The research comes from new studies on "climate proofing" key crops across the tropics. The studies by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) highlight how climate change will impact crops that are critical to food security in the developing world, and what adaptation strategies can help reduce these impacts.
Scientists report that the potato, a dietary staple for millions of people around the world, is especially vulnerable to heat stress which reduces growth and starch formation. See a map of current climate constraints for potatoes worldwide. Rising temperatures in southern Africa and tropical highlands worldwide could be particularly hazardous.
One concern is that climate change could drive the spread of the destructive potato tuber moth northward and to higher elevations. However, some positive effects are also expected in some regions where drier and warmer summers will likely decrease the incidence of potato's worst disease—late blight, which caused Ireland's potato famine in the 19th century. View a map of current climate constraints of Potatoes in India, Asia and the Himalayas. Read more »
In a recent opinion piece, Lloyd Le Page, CEO of the CGIAR Consortium, draws attention to the drought in East Africa, and how agricultural research can help prevent a similar crisis in the future:
“Focusing our efforts on long-term solutions via research and innovation would not only enhance our understanding of extreme weather events like drought, but also provide vital knowledge and technologies that farmers, herders, aid workers and policymakers can use to inform decisions on how to cope with them.”
Guest blog by Lini Wollenberg, Theme Leader for theme 'Pro-poor Climate Change Mitigation' and Chase Sova, visiting researcher on 'Adaptive Capacity under Progressive Climate Change', CCAFS.
Representatives from government agencies, research institutes, development organizations and civil society came together in June and July to discuss the current status of climate change policy in agriculture and identify research priorities in each of four countries: Ghana, Mali, Kenya and Ethiopia. CCAFS organized the national workshops respectively with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Ghana, the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in Mali, the Tegemeo Institute in Kenya and the Climate Change Forum in Ethiopia. Read more »
by Cecilia Schubert
With women making up 60-80 percent of farmers in Africa, they are likely to be more vulnerable to the effects of climate change. However, they are also in the position to be effective agents of change in supporting both mitigation and adaptation activities. This is visible in the work of the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), a partner in the CGIAR climate program. The organization recently released a video (see below), produced by ICRISAT's Alina Paul-Bossuet, which shows how women from the Indian women organization Adarsha, volunteer as village network assistants within the program Virtual Academy for Semi-Arid Tropics. The women continuously work with ICRISAT scientists on issues and concerns based on farmers’ problems related to climate change. The women act as intermediaries between the scientists (who come up with context-specific agricultural solutions), and the farmers. The two groups met every week via audio and video conferencing facilities at the village resource center, demonstrating innovative use of Information and Communication Technologies for development (ICT4D). Read more »
Guest blog by Ousmane Ndiaye, Senegal National Meteorological Agency.
It was a hot June day in Kaffrine, Senegal. As usual at this time of the year all eyes were looking toward the sky, expecting a good rainy season in a country where more than 80% of the activities rely on rainfall. Farmers were still wondering when the first rain would occur, and whether the rainy season would be able to sustain their crops. As climate grows increasingly unpredictable, seasonal forecasts will be essential to help farmers plan and reduce the impacts of weather variability. As part of ongoing work on managing climate risk, researchers from the CGIAR Climate program (CCAFS), have joined with climatologists, NGO workers, and agricultural advisers to take on the challenge of empowering farmers to better understand and use probabilistic seasonal climate information. Read more »
While many agricultural activities produce greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation and clearing land through slash-and-burn may be the worst culprit. When farmers expand into forested lands, trees that might store carbon for decades to come are lost and large amounts of carbon are released into the atmosphere. Yet agricultural expansion into forests is inevitable when poor farmers across the tropics lack sufficient access to land or opportunities to boost productivity on their current landholdings. They must seek new areas to plant their crops, including cocoa. 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)