Opportunities and challenges in enhancing food production and security in the context of climate change effects in sub Saharan Africa
Keywords:Climate Change, Crop, Livestock, Sub Saharan Africa
This discussion explores the opportunities and challenges in enhancing food production and security in the context of climatic variability in Sub Saharan Africa. The promotion of sustainable use of plant and animal products with emphasis on satisfying basic human needs, improving people’s standard of living, enhancing food security and reducing poverty have taken a center stage in Sub Saharan Africa. However, the efforts in this direction are being impacted negatively by climate change, through animal and crop production which have not been spared due to the natural disasters and environmental challenges which have affected all regions of Sub Saharan Africa indiscriminately. Climate is a particularly important driver of food production systems performance at the agriculture end of the food chain. It can affect the quantities and types of food produced as well as production-related income especially for the poor resource farmers. In order to be able to adequately address food production and security in the context of climate, there is need for the region to carry out thorough climatic vulnerability and adaptation assessments. Supporting research and training of experts to carry out vulnerability and adaptation assessments on crop and livestock production is crucial in order for respective countries to develop climate change adaptation measures to meet the obligation on food production and security. Sub Saharan Africa’s agro-ecological regions are variable and need to develop specific adaptive measures to reduce vulnerability to climate change. Due to the changing climatic conditions which the continent has already witnessed many severe climatic induced vulnerability such as decline in rainfall amounts and intensity, reduced length of rain season and increasing warm and occasionally very hot conditions has affected food production and security. Crop and livestock production systems will need to adapt to higher ambient temperatures, lower nutritional value of feed resources and new diseases and parasites occurrence. It can be seen that the present crop and livestock production systems based on pastoral or rangeland grazing husbandry systems, ecological destruction through climatic variability and overgrazing due to high stocking rates in areas where feed and water has been compromised due to high temperatures caused by climate change does not augur well for future livestock productivity. The understanding of climate change variables and their impacts is the first step in climate change research and prerequisite for defining appropriate adaptive responses by local crop and livestock farmers. Sustainable crop and livestock production supporting rural development should be compatible with the goals of curbing the effects of climate change. Production priorities should be directed towards promoting local crop and livestock genetic resources by providing comprehensive research support services on the impact of climate change. Both crops and livestock play important roles in farming systems, as they offer opportunities for risk coping, farm diversification and intensification, and provide significant livelihood benefits and food security. The discussion therefore, concludes that the effectiveness of biophysical responses of crop and livestock production systems to specific environmental challenges that are anticipated as a result of climate change, and then the range of adaptive measures that might be taken by local producers to ameliorate their effects will be the prerequisite for defining appropriate societal responses and meet food security targets
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