Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It is tough call for African farmers in adapting to climate change

Africa Science News Service: While the vast majority of African farmers interviewed for a recent climate change study perceived long-term changes in both temperature and rainfall, surprisingly few of them adjust their farming practices in the face of global warming. A study on rural Ethiopian farmers says that farmers identified shortage of land as the single biggest constraint to adapting to climate change, followed closely by lack of information and credit, labor, inputs, and water, as well as poor soils. South African farmers on the other hand identified lack of access to credit as the major obstacle to adapting, followed by lack of water, information, and market access, and insecure property rights.

As part of the study on adaptation strategies and constraints, researchers surveyed approximately 1,000 households in the Nile Basin in Ethiopia and nearly 800 farm households in the Limpopo Basin in South Africa. The research project was conducted by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Center for Environmental Economics and Policy in Africa, the Ethiopian Development Research Institute, the Ethiopian Economics Association, and the University of Hamburg, Germany.

…Farmers were more likely to adapt if they had access to credit, agricultural extension, information on climate change, owned private property or livestock, had more farming experience or education, and were economically better off.

“In the coming decades, climate change will have a major impact on the availability of water and food, particularly in rural areas of developing countries, where agricultural production is the major source of income and employment,” said Claudia Ringler, IFPRI senior research fellow and project leader. “African countries are particularly vulnerable because of their limited ability to adapt due to dependence on rainfed agriculture, high levels of poverty, low levels of human and physical capital, poor infrastructure, and already high temperatures,” she explained….

The Nile watershed's topography, created by Imagico, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.5 License

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