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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age 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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs