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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

African crops and livestock in a changing climate

Cross-posted from the CCAFS blog.

After some intense 5-6 years of CCAFS research and impact, a set of newly released CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) Working Papers highlight both climate change impacts and opportunities for African crop and livestock production systems. The papers summarise science on climate change impacts and adaptation, and present new information specifically targeted to the 42th meeting of the Subsidiary Body for Scientific and Technical Advice (SBSTA), held in Bonn at the beginning of June 2015.

Climate change and African crop production

The SBSTA crops paper (available here), produced in collaboration between CIAT and ILRI scientists, shows that, under our current emissions trajectory (RCP8.5, where global warming by the end of the 21st century is between 6-8 ºC), common bean, maize, banana and finger millet are projected to reduce their suitable areas significantly (30-50%) across the continent, and will need some kind of adaptation plan, or be replaced with other crops.

West African countries will in particular see suitability for maize decrease, with production losses of up to 40%. Photo: J. Soares

West African countries will in particular see suitability for maize decrease, with production losses of up to 40%. Photo: J. Soares

On the other hand, sorghum, cassava, yam, and pearl millet show either little area loss or even gains in suitable areas. Suitability projections suggest that opportunities may arise from expanding cropping areas in certain countries and regions: cassava production may move towards more temperate regions in Southern Africa, and yam suitability outside West Africa may increase.

The findings bring valuable insights that can support African countries adapt their agriculture production to a changing climate. The paper shows that despite inherent uncertainties in producing climate projections for crops, most of the projected impacts, if no adaptation measures are undertaken, are robust.

Read the full story here.

 

Livestock production under climate change: what do we need to know?

The livestock paper (available here) summarises what we know about climate change impacts on livestock systems in Africa. With livestock systems already engaging 600 million farmers around the globe, and the livestock sector continuing to develop as demand for meat increases, more robust and detailed information is urgently needed. This to better understand the trade-offs between various livestock adaptation options so that farmers and policy makers can make informed decisions around climate adaptation and resilience building.

Despite scientific advances around climate impacts, how livestock will be affected is still a relatively uncharted scientific territory. Photo: O. Girard (CIFOR)

Despite scientific advances around climate impacts, how livestock will be affected is still a relatively uncharted scientific territory. Photo: O. Girard (CIFOR)

The negative effects of increased temperature on feed intake, reproduction and performance on various livestock species is something that is reasonably well understood. For example, for most livestock species, such as cattle, sheep, goats, pig and chickens, temperatures between 10 and 30°C is when they perform the best. But for each 1°C increase above that, all species reduce their feed intake by 3-5 percent. Without a doubt, this will have far reaching effects on the quality and quantity of livestock species.

There are many options that can help livestock keepers adapt. The working paper illustrates trade-offs between various climate adaptation options that livestock farmers can take on. Options include changes in livestock breeds and species, improved feeding better grazing and manure management, and use of weather information and weather-index insurance.

In spite of progress in knowledge on climate change and livestock since  2009, we need much more work to ensure that we will have the knowledge and political support needed to build resilient livestock systems in the future. A key question revolves around how we can create the political will to bolster the resources going into livestock research for development.

Read the full story here.

Further: A broader set of UNFCCC and SBSTA related stories is also available from the CCAFS blog, here.

Further: Note the reference to the crops paper in the African submission to SBSTA (page 34).
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