Africa's staple food crops vulnerable

A timeline has been produced by researchers on projected climate change and how it is set to alter the face of agriculture in Sub-Saharan Africa. If no action is taken, climate change can have a significant adverse affect on food security; in their study, the team of researchers provides timings of the "transformations" needed to help minimise these impacts.

Co-author Julian Ramirez-Villegas from the University of Leeds, UK, said the study carried out by the CGIAR research programme on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCFAS) set out to quantify for the first time when changes to food production were likely to happen.
"Rather than focusing on what we need to do by a certain time, we know that there is a range of options and then we put deadlines on these options," he told BBC News.

The team assessed when areas growing nine of Sub-Saharan Africa's staple crops - which account for half of the region's food production - would have to undergo "transformational adaptation", which refers to a fundamental shift in an area's food production system. For example, stop growing crops and switch to livestock farming instead.

Dr Ramirez-Villegas said the study found that six of the nine crops assessed were "stable in respect to transformation and adaptation".
"It does not mean there will not be impacts, for example the yields might decrease," he added.

"But there are three - beans, maize and bananas - that are more unstable and are therefore projected to have large amounts of area under transformational change.

'Climate-smart' crops

However, he added that it was not all bad news as technological advancements offered hope of increasing resilience to changes in the growing conditions.

One example was "climate smart" crop varieties. In 2015, researchers reported a breakthrough in the development of temperature-resilient beans that could help sustain a vital source of protein for millions of people around the globe.

In a separate study, published in The Lancet, researched warned that climate change could be responsible for more than half-a-million deaths by the middle of the century.

The research was described as the strongest evidence yet that "climate change could have damaging consequences for food production and health worldwide".


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