Thursday, June 19, 2014

Gambia: Climate-smart agriculture - an opportunity to secure the future

An editorial in via the Point (Banjul): Advancing Global Food Security in the Face of Weather Volatility and Climate Change, The Chicago Council's 2014 flagship agriculture publication, points to two large and interrelated challenges.I term them a 'double whammy': the prospects of increasing food insecurity in the wake of climate change and consequent volatile weather. Let's consider the first: growing food insecurity.

  • In the next 25 years, we will have to produce more food than we did in the last 2,500 years.
  • We need to grow more food with less land, water, and other critical inputs, since these are already limited and under increasing demographic and environmental pressures.

Let's consider the second part: climate change makes matters worse for food security and nutrition. - Changes in climate threaten to reduce existing yields of crops like wheat and corn - critical for global food security. Food prices of these crops are projected to double, as a result.

- Increased levels of atmospheric carbon threaten to reduce the nutrition content of these crops, by reducing their protein levels or micronutrients such as zinc - compounding the challenge of not having enough food, with that of not having enough nutritious food.

In Africa, we see the very real effects of climate change on agriculture. Former thriving breadbaskets such as in Northern Nigeria are teetering due to years of underfunding and policy inattention. Outside corn, our food security depends on crops like sorghum, millets, cassava and sweet potato--termed 'orphan crops' due to lack of research attention relative to rice, wheat, and corn....

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