Opportunities and challenges in enhancing food production and security in the context of climate change effects in sub Saharan Africa


  • Never Assan Zimbabwe Open University, Faculty of Agriculture, Department of Animal Production, Bulawayo Region, Box 3550, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe


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


Agrisystems., 2000. National Livestock Development Study for Zimbabwe. Draft Main Report, Phase 1. Harare, Zimbabwe. Agrisystems Ltd and Price Waterhouse.

Amenu, K., Markemann, A., Oßler, R.R., Siegmund-Schultze, M., Z´arate, A.V., 2011. Perceived Feed and Water Constraints for Livestock Production in Lume and Siraro Districts, Ethiopia.

Anderson, S., 2003. Animal genetic resources and sustainable livelihoods. Ecolog. Econom., 45(3), 331- 339.

Assan, N., 2013. Opportunities and challenges in use of imported livestock than utilization of local genetic resources in Zimbabwe. J. Anim. Prod. Adv., 3(4), 97-106.

Baker, L.R., Rege, J.E.O., 1994. Genetic resistance to diseases and other stresses in the improvement of ruminant livestock in the tropics. Proc. 5th Worl. Congr. Gen. Appl. Liv. Prod., University of Guelp, 7- 12 August, 405- 412.

Barrett, J.C., 1992. The economic role of cattle in communal farming systems in Zimbabwe. ODI Pastoral Development Network, ODI, London Paper 32b. Over. Dev. Inst., London.

Central Statistical Office, (CSO)., 2000. Agriculture and Livestock Surveys in Communal Lands. Central Statistical Office, Causeway, Harare, Zimbabwe.

Charlotte, P., Madsen, J., 1998. Constraints and opportunities for improved milk production and calf rearing in Sanyati communal farming area, Zimbabwe. Livest. Res. Rur. Dev., 10.

Devendra, C., Thomas, D., Jabbar, M., Zerbini, E., 2000. Improvement of Livestock Production in Crop-Animal Systems in Agro-Ecological Zones of South Asia., ILRI, Nairobi, Kenya.

FAO., 1996. World Food Summit, 1996. Climate Change and Food Security (CCFS): A Framework Document, http://www.fao.org/forestry/15538-079b31d45081fe9c3dbc6ff34de4807e4.pdf

FAO., 2001. Food and Agriculture Organization. Statistical Database. Food and Agriculture Organization of United Nation.

FAO., 2006. The state of food insecurity in the world: Eradicating world hunger - taking stock ten years after the World Food Summit, FAO, Rome, 40 pp.

Hagreaves, S.K., Bruce, D., Beffa, L.M., 2004. Disaster mitigation options for livestock production in communal farming systems in Zimbabwe. 1. Background information and literature review. PO Box 776, Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: ICRISAT: and Rome, Italy: FAO. 56pp.

Homann, S., Van Rooyen, A.F., Moyo, T., Nengomahsa, Z., 2007. Goat production and marketing: Baseline information for semi-arid Zimbabwe. P.O. Box 776. Bulawayo, Zimbabwe: Inter. Crop. Res. Inst. Semi-Arid Trop. 84pp.

IPCC., 2007. Mpacts, adaptation and vulnerability: Contributions of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report. Cambr. Univ.Press., 2007, 444.

Khombe, C.T., 1994. The conservation and selection of indigenous beef breeds in Zimbabwe. Ministry of National Affairs, Employment Creation and Cooperatives, P Bag 7762, Causeway, Zimbabwe.

Lenné, J.M., Thomas, D., 2006. Integrating crop–livestock research and development in Sub-Saharan Africa - Option, imperative or impossible. Outlook Agr. Volume., 35, Article #3 p 167–175.

Lukuyu, B.A., Kitalyi, A., Franzel, S., Duncan, A., Baltenweck, I., 2009. Constraints and options to enhancing production of high quality feeds in dairy production in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda ICRAF Working Paper no. 95. Nairobi, Kenya: World Agroforestry Centre.

Madzima, W.N., 1993. Dep. Veter. Serv., Harare, Zimbabwe.

Masikati, P., 2010. Improving the water productivity of integrated crop-livestock systems in the semi-arid tropics of Zimbabwe: an ex-ante analysis using simulation modeling. Ecol. Dev., 78.

Masimba, E.S., Mbiriri, D.T., Kashangura, M.T., Mutibvu, T., 2011. Indigenous practices for the control and treatment of ailments in Zimbabwe’s village poultry. Livest. Res. Rur. Dev., 23(257).

Moran, F., Nyamapfende, K., 1984. A Secondary Agriculture Course Book 1. Mambo Press, Gweru.Zimbabwe.

Morton, J., Matthewman, R. 1996. Improving Livestock Production Through Extension: Information Needs, Institutions and Opportunities. Natur.Res. Perspect., 12.

Mwacharo, J.M., Drucker, A.G., 2005. Production objectives and management strategies of livestock-keepers in Southeast Kenya: implications for a breeding programme. Trop. Anim. Health Product., 37(8):635-52.

Mwiturubani, D.A., 2010. Climate change and access to water resources in Lake Victoria basin; In; Mwiturubani Da and van Wyk JA (Ed) (2010) Climate change and natural resources conflicts in Africa, Institute for Security Studies, PO Box 1787, Brooklyn Square 0075, Pretoria, South Africa.

Nkeme, K.K., Ndaeyo, N.U., 2013. Climate change and coping strategies among peasant farmers in Akwa Ibom state, Nigeria Int. J. Basic Appl. Sci., 2(1), 24-28.

Patra, A.K., Sharma, K., Narayan, D., Pattanaik, A.K., 2002. Effect of partial replacement of dietary protein by a leaf meal mixture containing Leucaena leucocephala, Morus alba and Azadirachta indica on performance of goats. Asian-Aus J. Anim. Sci., 15(12), 1732-1737.

Pen, M., Savage, D., Stür, W., Seng, M., 2009. Constraints to Cattle Production of Small-scale Farmers in Kampong Cham Province, Cambodia. Conference on International Research on Food Security. Natur. Res.Manag. Rur. Dev. University of Hamburg, October 6-8.

Scholtz, M.M., 1988. Selection possibilities of hardy beef breeds in Africa: The Nguni example In: Proceedings of the 3rd World Congress on sheep and beef cattle breeding. Paris, France., 1988, pp303-319.

Scholtz, M.M., 2012. The development of a seedstock industry using indigenous livestock from rural keepers for sustainable production. J. Life Sci., 6,1270-1276.

Singh, S.K., Mecna, H.R., Kolekar, D.V., Singh, Y.P., 2021. Climate change impacts on livestock and adaptation strategies to sustain livestock production. J. Vet. Adv., 2(7), 407-412.

Smit, B., Me Nabb, D., Snuckers, J., 1996. Agriculture adaptation to climate variation. Clim. change., 33, 7-29.

Svotwa, E., Hamudikuwanda, H., Makarau, A. 2007. Influence of climate and weather on cattle production semi arid communal areas of Zimbabwe. Electronic journal of environmental, agricultural and food chemistry. Volume 6, Article # 2, pp1838-1850.

Tadesse, D., 2010. Climate change, water and food security in Ethiopia. In; Mwiturubani Da and van Wyk JA (Ed) (2010) Climate change and natural resources conflicts in Africa. Inst. Secur. Stud., PO Box 1787, Brooklyn Square 0075, Pretoria, South Africa. Pp 81-101.

Thornton, P.K., 2010. Livestock production: recent trends, future prospects. Phil. Trans. R. Soc., 365(1554), 2853- 2867.

Van Rooyen, A.F., Freeman, A., Moyo, S., Rohrback, D., 2007. Livestock Development in Southern Africa. Fut. Res. Invest. Prior., ICRISAT Bulawayo, Zimbabwe.

Watson, R.T., 1998. The regional impacts of climate change: An assessment of Vulnerability. Cambr. Univ. Press Cambr.



How to Cite

Assan, N. . (2014). Opportunities and challenges in enhancing food production and security in the context of climate change effects in sub Saharan Africa. Scientific Journal of Pure and Applied Sciences, 3(11), 881-891. Retrieved from http://www.sjournals.com/index.php/sjpas/article/view/531