News / Africa

Climate Change May Overwhelm Farmers

A farmer picks his maize in a field  near the house and birth place of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa, Wednesday,  June 12, 2013.  (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)
A farmer picks his maize in a field near the house and birth place of former South African President Nelson Mandela in Qunu, South Africa, Wednesday, June 12, 2013. (AP Photo/Schalk van Zuydam)

Multimedia

Audio
  • Listen to De Capua report on status of African Agriculture

Joe DeCapua

A new study says the “pace and severity of climate change” may overwhelm small-scale farmers in Africa. The study describes those farmers as the “mainstay of food production” on the continent. The findings were released at the African Green Revolution Forum in Addis Ababa.

Listen to De Capua report on status of African Agriculture
Listen to De Capua report on status of African Agriculturei
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

The 2014 African Agriculture Status Report says small-scale farmers are already struggling to keep up with the effects of climate change.

Dr. David Sarfo Ameyaw is managing editor of the report and Director of Strategy, Monitoring, Learning and Evaluation at AGRA, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.

He said, “Small-scale farmers are the backbone of African agriculture. About 70-percent of the rural population in sub-Saharan Africa are small-scale farmers. They produce about 80-percent of the food need in Africa.”

Small-scale farmers grow most of the staple crops in Africa on plots of land usually ranging two to 10 hectares. They lag far behind farmers in many other countries in cereal production with about one-point-five tons per hectare compared with over five tons elsewhere.

“About 90-precent of these farms are rain-fed, which means that they depend on the weather. Weather is rainfall. Weather is drought. Weather is [an] increase in temperature. They are [more] exposed to these climate effects than any other part of the world. On top of that most of them use their own labor or family labor. They are not mechanized,” he said.

The AGRA report said farmers in sub-Saharan Africa are “contending with an increase in average temperatures.”

“It’s been projected that within the next 35 years the increase in temperature will be between one-point-five to two-point-five degrees [Celsius]. This major rise in temperature brings a lot of issues to Africa food security. It is going to affect reduction in yield, which is already low – increase invulnerability to pests and diseases that will kill most of the livestock,” said Ameyaw.

Climate change is also expected to affect the average length of the growing season, which could reduce already low crop yields.

Ameyaw said to mitigate the effects of climate change, African farmers are urged to adopt – what’s called – climate smart agriculture. It includes improved soil management.

“We are talking about farmers being able to adopt both organic and inorganic nutrient enriching technology to improve their soil fertility. Things that we promote are the right use of inorganic and organic fertilizer, soil tillage, the right use of cultivating the land. Putting things like legumes and cereals together to increase the soil nutrient content,” he said.

Another recommendation is the adoption of new crop varieties that rely less on manufactured fertilizers -- or have a higher tolerance for heat or drought. The Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa official said plant breeders are also increasing both the productivity and nutritional value of crops.

He said, “In AGRA, what we do is to be able to help African scientists. Currently, we have trained about 200 Africa crop breeders. We have been able to release over 400 Africa varieties. About 80-percent of these varieties have been commercialized. When I say ‘commercialized’ it means it has been multiplied by Africa seed companies.”

The new varieties include maize, sweet potato, sorghum, soya and cassava. Ameyaw says they are not genetically modified.

“No, no, no, no, no. AGRA, as an organization, doesn’t promote GMO. We are talking about conventional breeding to improve varieties that will be adopted by the farmers and that can be able to withstand the climate change that we are going through.”

Ameyaw said, “Despite climate change, there is enormous potential for smallholder-led agricultural growth.” But he adds, “There is an urgent need to increase investment and expand climate smart agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.”

He estimated that would cost more than $1,600 per smallholder farmer each year for 10 years.

“Through donors and other people, we will be able to invest about 10-percent of these amounts. Governments would invest about 50-percent. And private sector will invest about 40-percent of this amount to transform Africa agriculture by 2020.”

Investments, he said, are needed for such things as research and development, the training of scientists, reducing post-harvest waste through better processing, storage and transportation and modern marketing techniques. 

You May Like

IS Militants Release 49 Turkish Hostages

Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reports that no ransom was paid and no conditions accepted for the hostages' release; few details of the release are known More

Photogallery IS Attacks Send Thousands of Syrian Kurds Fleeing to Turkey

Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says more than 300 Kurdish fighters crossed into Syria from Turkey to defend a Kurdish area from attack by the Islamic militants More

Sierra Leone's Ebola Lockdown Continues

Thousands of health workers are going door to door in the West African country of 6 million, informing people of how to avoid Ebola, handing out soap More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid