Agricultural Production In Africa: Urgent Climate Change Adaptation Measures Needed

Climate change and resulting extreme weather events like recent floods in Senegal and drought in South Africa are already decreasing agricultural productivity and food security in many African countries. According to new forecasts by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, agricultural yields in sub-Saharan Africa are expected to decline by 15 per cent by 2050. At the same time, the continent will have to feed around 9 billion people. In the face of increasing population growth and the rising standard of living, food production would have to increase by an estimated 60 per cent by 2050. Food security in Africa demands urgent and serious attention. Climate change is already stalling progress by interacting with multiple other stressors and shocks, including inequality, degrading natural resources, conflict, and the COVID-19 pandemic. A 3°C warming trajectory will cause catastrophic disruption to African food systems within the next 30 years. In fact, under a 3°C warming scenario, Africa is expected to lose up to 30 percent of current growing areas for maize and banana and 60 percent for beans by 2050. Many more millions of Africans will suffer from hunger. By 2050, the 282 million of Africa’s population who are undernourished today is expected to grow to 350 million. A 1.5°C trajectory provides more options for adaptation of African food systems, but still demands urgent action. Adaptation to climate change must therefore be brought into the focus of Africa’s agricultural development. In the United Nations Paris Agreement (2015), countries committed themselves to Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). These lay down binding climate change mitigation and adaptation measures. Leading adaptation options for food systems are well-defined and build on evidence and experience, including in Africa. Among these options, the priorities for public sector investment in Africa are fivefold: Research and extension, land restoration, water management, infrastructure, and climate information services. Some of the adaptation practices have long-term African experience to build on (e.g., landscape management, agroforestry), while others are newer areas of endeavour on the continent or globally (e.g., fiscal measures, co-be...

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