News / Africa

African Farmers Can Overcome Warming Climate, Says Study

African Farmers Can Overcome Warming Climate, Says Study
African Farmers Can Overcome Warming Climate, Says Study
TEXT SIZE - +

A new study on the effects of climate change on agriculture offers some rare hopeful news for African farmers. Researchers say that lowered crop production expected as a result of rising global temperatures can be overcome by adopting under-utilized farming techniques.

Scientists have long-warned that Africa, with its deep reliance on subsistence rain-fed agriculture, is particularly vulnerable to a changing climate.

Higher temperatures and shifting rainfall patterns are expected to plague the region with harsher growing climates and an increase in emergency droughts and floods.

But Peter Cooper, a researcher in a new study published this week, says that, as far as agriculture is concerned, the apocalyptic predictions for this chronically-food-insecure continent need not come to pass.

"Countries, and the continent itself, could be a food exporter - they could have food surpluses - even under climate change, just through the adoption of what is known now," said Peter Cooper.

The new study from the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics calculates that there is no reason why most farmers on the continent will not be able to significantly surpass current yields even after a rise of three degrees Celsius.

Scientists found that basic techniques such as fertilizer use, rainfall management, and crop rotations, if adopted, would more than compensate for adverse climate trends for farmlands in the region's semi-arid tropics.

Key to the researchers' finding is that while most of the world has significantly changed the way food is grown over the last fifty years, sub-Saharan Africa has lagged terribly behind.

The use of fertilizer in the region has done little more than stagnate over this time period. Despite beginning at the same levels of fertilizer use in 1960, South Asia now consumes more than ten-fold the rate found in sub-Saharan Africa.

Cooper says that Africa's policy makers should immediately begin pushing policies that promote better farming practices. He says the benefits will be felt long before climate change becomes the serious challenge many soon expect.

"If you help farmers adopt agricultural technologies that are available now, you are going to improve their livelihoods hugely before the climate change, and even after, when climate change becomes a serious threat in 20 or 30 years time, they will still be getting higher yields than they are right now," he said. "So it's a win-win situation: improving livelihoods now, and helping them adapt to climate change when it comes."

The researchers found that the expected rise in temperatures would have a much greater effect on crop production than the light shift in rainfall patterns predicted by the scientists' climate models. Hotter temperatures can cause lower crop yields due to declining photosynthetic efficiency and faster plant maturation rates.

A study published last year found that the Tanzanian economy could suffer a two-thirds drop in gross domestic product before the end of the century if the East African nation does not immediately begin adapting its agricultural industry to face expected shifts in climate. The researchers of this previous study suggested it serve as a warning to all countries in the region.

You May Like

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Turkish Law Gives Spy Agency Controversial Powers

Parliament approves legislation to bolster powers of intelligence service, which government claims is necessary to modernize and deal with new threats Turkey faces More

Video Face of American Farmer Changing

Average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Face of American Farmer is Changingi
X
Mike Osborne
April 18, 2014
The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid