Knowledge for better food systems

African agriculture and climate change

A gloomy assessment of climate change risks for african agriculture.

Abstract

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) assessment of major risks for African agriculture and food security caused by climate change during coming decades is confirmed by a review of more recent climate change impact assessments (14 quantitative, six qualitative). Projected impacts relative to current production levels range from −100% to +168% in econometric, from −84% to +62% in process-based, and from −57% to +30% in statistical assessments. Despite large uncertainty, there are several robust conclusions from published literature for policy makers and research agendas: agriculture everywhere in Africa runs some risk to be negatively affected by climate change; existing cropping systems and infrastructure will have to change to meet future demand. With respect to growing population and the threat of negative climate change impacts, science will now have to show if and how agricultural production in Africa can be significantly improved.

Reference

Müller C, Cramer W, Hare W L and Lotze-Campen H (2011). Climate change risks for African agriculture PNAS 108, 11 4313–431.

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Africa

The 54 countries in Africa – from the dry northern African nations, through those in deserts and rainforests, all the way to the temperate parts of South Africa – are hugely varied in their ethnic, cultural, climatic, geographic, and economic aspects. The continent’s population of over a billion inhabitants, with a median age of 19.7 years, is the youngest in the world. Due to both its localised epidemics of hunger and its huge untapped agricultural potential, Sub-Saharan Africa specifically is a key focus area for many NGOs and development agencies interested in food production and security.

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