Climate Change and African Agriculture

by Developed Africa 4. October 2013 09:00

It may be just mere environmental discussion in the Britain, but in Africa climate change is a very challenging reality.

The challenges felt in African countries by farmers especially are becoming more extreme in nature, and having a greater effect upon crop yields and livestock rearing. Rains are a main feature of the struggle, going towards either extreme: in some areas the rains are too strong and flood the crops, in others rains are too little and often too late, causing crops to struggle and more often than not, die. This is definitely a major problem and one that needs addressing, and fast. Firstly, it is going to greatly effect the income and livelihoods of African farmers, if they cannot adapt well enough to the changing nature of the climate around them, then they will soon find themselves in even greater poverty. Secondly, in an extreme circumstance, it could cause food shortages across the world if crops cannot be produced well enough on African farms.

An article from the Guardian reported several stories from farmers, as well as the Climate Change Officer from Care who has said that:

The people we work with are living with the effects of climate change right now. In Niger, farmers are being forced to find new sources of income as climatic changes make rearing livestock impossible"

 However, there is another side of this story, which sees the climate change narrative being used for personal gain by Western countries instead of African countries. The argument follows that the climate change narrative which posits that new forms of energy need to be procured is being used to manipulate and use African land for their own gain and purposes. This side of the debate was put forward in an article from Policymic:

Consider how the discourse of energy crisis and resource limits in wealthy countries- underlined by fossil fuels' contribution to climate change- has spawned a rush for African farmland for biofuel production, which in turn is being touted "green growth" in the global south."

It could be argued that Western countries caused this global climate issue, and are now enforcing renewable energy values onto Africans, which whilst may be a wise move for Africa to make, could be seen to be a little dictatorial. 

However, putting this argument aside, the new methods of farm work that have started to be introduced could make a huge difference to the worries caused by climate change. For example, as reported by All Africa, the Farming First tool which includes:

different information; tools; the guides; key messages; examples; case studies"

The Guide to UN Framework Conventionon Climate Change was created by the group Farming First along with other partners in order to inform farmers about the best ways to deal with the changing climate:

Friis said the hope is to not only help farmers, but to encourage policy makers as well, to engage in climate change discussions"

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