Agricultural researchers and experts cautioned the past Wednesday during a workshop at Boipuso Hall that due to climate change Botswana might in the future experience frequent and severe droughts.
Professor Nnyaladzi Batisani from the Botswana Institute for Technology and Research Innovation (BITRI) pointed out the fact that, “Drought and occasional floods are most critical climate change pressures in Botswana and thus threaten national food security. The national demand of cereal crops of 200 000 mt is not met mainly due to low rainfall and prolonged dry spells. Droughts are expected to increase in frequency and severity particularly in the period 2080- 2100; the changes are largest in western and northern Botswana. Climate change is a threat to food security hence a concerted effort involving policy, and funding for both production projects and research is needed.”
Prof Batisani had led the team that drafted Botswana’s baseline report on climate change adaptation and mitigation which was presented to the SADC Secretariat for validation during that workshop.
He said while Batswana might get used to droughts since the country is semi arid and they have lived with it, a serious challenge might come from floods. This he said is due to the fact that the country’s drainage system is not designed to resist floods. Poor health is going to emanate from this challenge.
Apparently Botswana is not alone in this. He said; “Climate change poses serious global challenge on food production for growing populations under escalating resource scarcity. Food Agriculture Organization (FAO) forecasts estimate that to meet food demand, cereal production in 2050 will need to be about 70% higher than the 2006 levels. Nevertheless, estimates of the impacts of climate change on production of cereals and other major food crops, whether based on models or historical empirical data point out to long term yield reductions associated with climatic trends and extremes.”
He said it is therefore essential to conduct comprehensive evaluation of interrelated effects of socio economic perturbations and global change on food security in developing countries. The farming community he said, needs support to adapt and build resilience to climate shocks and policy is necessary to create conducive environment. There however are no policies that explicitly address climate change and smart agriculture.
Another presenter, who was part of the drafting team, Dr Olaotswe Kgosikoma said that evidence suggested that there will be increase in soil temperatures which are likely to reduce soil moisture and water holding capacity due to excessive evaporation and reduced exchange capacity. There will also be increased livestock mortality due to droughts.