Thursday, February 12, 2009

Mixed yield outcomes anticipated as African farmers brace for climate impact

Engineering News (South Africa): A new study on the impact of climate change on crop yields and undernutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), has shown that while many countries could suffer from lower yields, some countries, including South Africa, Uganda, and Ghana, may experience increased yields. The study, put together by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), is in contrast to previous studies, as it did not suggest an overall decrease in crop yields in SSA.

“This is largely accounted for by the incorporation of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) in the analysis, which can have a fertilisation effect on crops,” the study notes. The organization does add, however, that climate change may benefit crop production in SSA in the short-term, but may not in the long-term. Ongoing research by numerous organisations is considering potential impacts to 2100.

“The most important conclusion from this study is that, although overall crop yields may not decline, owing to the projected increase in population and stagnating purchasing power, hunger will remain or even worsen if no drastic adaptation measures are taken,” emphasises IIASA research scholar Dr Steffen Fritz.

“Hunger knows no boundaries or borders, and global change is likely to exacerbate food insecurity in what is already a vulnerable region. It is important that adaptation strategies be developed and implemented soon to avert future hunger. This type of research may assist in the targeting of support for countries as they develop strategies to adapt to climate change and improve global food security,” Fritz adds….

A farm in Mpumalanga, South Africa in 2006. Taken by PZFUN, Wikimedia Commons, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License

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