Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Adaptation is way to go for better crop yields – researcher

A research conducted in Maun and the Southern areas by a lecturer at the Botswana University of Agriculture and Natural Resources (BUAN), Dr Thembeka Mpuisang, found that while the climate, crop and socio-economic changes proved negative, the impacts may be mitigated through of adaptation strategies. The research was done with the view to determine integrated socio-economic and climate projections. 

Adaptation, she said, is projected to increase crop yields and net returns from 18 percent to 29 percent. It is also anticipated that they will result in poverty levels dropping by about two percent. The research concludes that different adaptation packages could, however, have varying effects.   

Presenting the research during a workshop last week Tuesday, Mpuisang highlighted that agriculture contributed 40 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) at pre-independence but now just one percent while 70 to 96 percent of national requirement of staple cereals are satisfied through importation.

 “Communal farmers cultivate about 80 percent planted area and produce about 38 percent of the country’s total harvest. Maize traditional farmer’s yields are poor (about 300 kilogrammes per hectare while large scale commercial farmers get one to three tons per hectare,” she said. 

The climate at the researched places showed that average annual total rainfall for southern region is 257mm while average annual total in Maun area is 420mm. 

“Crops simulated are maize, sorghum, cowpeas and millets. With temperatures that rise by 1.3 to 3.6 Degrees Celcius during mid-century over all the months of the year precipitation is uncertain at 18 to 20 percent. Without adaptation maize yields experienced decrease of eight percent in the outh, 12 percent yield decrease in the north (Maun region),” said Mpuisang.

With adaptation, she said, there was increase to 23 percent. The adaptations methods include increased use of fertilisers, heat tolerant cultivers and taking into consideration population density.

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