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

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

Multimedia Brussels Schools, Metro Reopen Under Heavy Guard

City remains under the highest threat alert level due to what authorities have described as a 'serious and imminent' threat of attack

Video Debt-ridden Refugees Await Onslaught of Lebanese Winter

Aid agencies are attempting to reduce potentially devastating consequences of freezing conditions and snowstorms that killed eight last year, including three Syrian refugees

Americans Think About Strange Stuff at Thanksgiving

Millions of Americans are celebrating Thanksgiving, but they’re not necessarily thinking about turkey and stuffing

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

By the Numbers

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs