Gloomy outlook for agriculture in Africa due to volatile weather
Although it accounts for less than four percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, Africa bears the brunt of the impacts of climate change.
According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), temperatures in Africa are expected to rise faster than the global average, ranging from an increase of 0.2°C per decade at the low end to more than 0.5°C per decade at the high end. Al-Aqsa. end.
The Kenya Meteorological Department’s State of the Climate-Kenya 2020 report found that temperatures recorded in 2020 were above the 1981-2012 average, with the cold season (June to August) showing the largest deviation from normal compared to other months of the year.
In East Africa, scientists have been sounding the alarm about rising temperatures for years, warning of more frequent droughts. Between 2020 and 2023, the Horn of Africa experienced its worst drought in four decades, affecting Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya. The 2022 rainy season was recorded as the driest in more than 40 years, with an estimated 43,000 people dying in Somalia in 2022.
These changes are expected to impact agriculture in the region, weakening already fragile food systems.
Impacts include reduced crop and livestock productivity. There are many reasons why climate change poses a huge challenge to African agriculture.
Up to 95 percent of the continent’s farmers do not have irrigation systems, making them completely dependent on rainfall.
In Kenya, for example, agriculture is largely rainfall-dependent, with 98 percent of it dependent on rainfall.
Scientists expect rainfall in many parts of the continent to decrease and droughts to become more frequent. Against this bleak backdrop, farmers in the continent’s arid regions will struggle to find enough water for their crops. Experts say many of the crops that make up the African diet, such as maize and wheat, will struggle to survive higher temperatures. With a 2°C rise in temperature, crop yields across sub-Saharan Africa will decline by 10 percent.
A temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius will reduce crop productivity by up to 20 percent, and in a worst-case scenario of up to three degrees of warming, all current maize, millet and sorghum growing areas in Africa will become unsuitable.
The 2020 United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) report noted that the food security situation in Kenya’s arid and semi-arid provinces was at one of its lowest levels in the past 15 years.
The 2020 Agricultural Meteorological Report indicated that maize, beans and tea grown in western Kenya were affected by the rainy season. In central Kenya, where maize, potatoes, peas and beans are grown, the rains from March to May began late and the season was low. April witnessed heavy rains, resulting in crop production that ranged from below normal to near normal. In southeastern and coastal Kenya, where maize and beans are the main crops, harvests have been poor due to poor rainfall during the short rainy season.
These challenges are exacerbated by rapid population growth. In Kenya, the population has increased from 8.12 million in 1960 to 54.03 million in 2022, and experts say feeding this growing population will be a daunting task.
“The reason climate change poses a huge challenge to agriculture and livelihoods in Africa is that it is highly climate dependent,” explains Dr. Sheila Ochogbogu, Executive Director, “This destabilizes food security because crop production depends on climate conditions that are relatively predictable from year to year.” “to another.” Director of the Alliance for Science, a global communications initiative that provides science materials on emerging scientific issues, including climate change.
One way to adapt is to grow naturally climate-resilient food crops, which have been grown in Africa for centuries but are often neglected globally by corporates, says Dr Mokani Moyo of the International Potato Centre, a CGIAR center in Kenya. Large seeds.
“As a continent, we continue to suffer from colonialism as we have adapted to eating foreign foods that we do not produce, while neglecting our traditional crops that are adapted to African climates,” explains the interim director of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Agricultural Development Enoch Chikava.
That’s why today experts from the Advisory Group for Climate Research in Africa (AICCRA) are working with colleagues in Kenya to help farmers in Taita Taveta District produce new, high-yielding, drought-tolerant varieties of pearl millet, sorghum and pigeon pea. .
But climate change also has a negative impact on livestock production. Pastoralism is one of the major economic activities of arid and semi-arid communities in Kenya, accounting for more than 90 percent of rural household income in the arid lands of northern Kenya.
But rising temperatures and low annual rainfall threaten this activity, reducing livestock productivity and hindering the growth of forage crops. In pastoral areas, especially in the northern part of the country, millions of livestock were lost during the long drought, with the state Department of Livestock confirming that more than 2.5 million heads of livestock were lost.
Livestock plays an important role in food security in Kenya, with millions of people across the country relying on this sector for food, making it no less important than crop production.
Given the climate-related challenges facing the entire agricultural sector, experts say significant progress is needed in farming food systems in Africa to prepare for these future challenges.
According to Mr. Bernard Kimoro, Head of the Department of Climate Change and Livestock Sustainability at the state Ministry of Livestock Development, investments are needed to support climate-smart agriculture.
“One way is to use technology in food systems to produce improved crops that are resistant to drought and disease, and those that are tolerant to increased salinity,” explains Dr. Sheila Ochogbogu.
(Tags for translation)Agriculture Africa