Climate Change

Climate crisis: Staple crop yield in 8 African countries may decline by 80%, flags report

The crisis will exacerbate food insecurity and poverty if no changes are made to agricultural practices or global policies, erratic weather patterns, etc, the report flags

By DTE Staff
Published: Wednesday 27 October 2021

Climate change has triggered gradual and incremental shifts and disruptions to weather patterns and seasonal rhythms. The crisis may induce another catastrophic shift: The yield of staple crops in eight sub-Saharan African countries could decrease by as much as 80 per cent by 2050 if temperatures continue to rise.

The report by International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), released October 27, 2021, stated small-scale farmers in parts of Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe could be worse affected.

IFAD is a specialised agency of the United Nations and works to address poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries. 

It added that the crisis will exacerbate food insecurity and poverty if no changes are made to agricultural practices or global policies, erratic weather patterns, drier conditions and an increase in temperatures by 2°C.

In 2015, wealthier countries promised to raise $100 billion a year. The commitment, however, remains unfulfilled so far: It reached just short of $80 billion in 2019, according to an official assessment by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. 

The 26th session of the Conference of Parties (CoP26) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC), which starts October 31, will focus on the same.

The report, however, stated that even if the $100 billion target is reached, it would be insufficient to deal with the crisis that has already been set in motion.

A decrease in yield will cause a ripple effect: It will lead to higher food prices, a decrease in food availability and a rise in hunger and poverty. This could increase migration, conflict and instability, the report flagged.

Africa carries the heaviest burden of the associated climate change effects, despite contributing less than 5 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. The continent is also witnessing a higher rate of warming than the global average of 0.15°C per decade from 1951-2020.

Sub-Saharan Africa had losses of over $520 million in direct economic damages annually as a result of climate change since the beginning of this century, according to the International Monetary Fund estimates.

“COP26 is a turning point for humanity. We must not squander this opportunity to limit the rise in temperatures while at the same time supporting farmers to become resilient to the effects of climate change,” said Jyotsna Puri, associate vice-president, strategy and knowledge department, IFAD.

The report recommended fundamental changes to local crop choices and agricultural practices by 2050 in these countries. Some of these include planting alternative crops and crop diversification; planting different varieties, including locally adapted varieties; strengthening storage and processing capacities and infrastructure, among others.

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