Thursday, March 23, 2023

Climate change to hit agriculture most- report

The World Bank has warned in a new report that there is need for leaders to act fast on the impending devastation that will be left by climate change that could leave many people without food especially in many parts of Africa.


The report titled, “Shock Waves: Managing the Impacts of Climate Change on Poverty” stated that climate impacts will affect agriculture the most, a key sector in the poorest countries and major source of income, food security, nutrition, jobs, livelihoods and export earnings.


“By 2030, crop yield losses could mean that food prices would be 12 percent higher on average in Sub-Saharan Africa,” said the World Bank in the report.


Already countries in the region are feeling the impact of climate change with Botswana and South Africa expecting low group yields and rationing water as dams dry up.


South African economists said this will lead to high food inflation and may force Africa’s second largest economy to start importing wheat and maizeÔÇöa move that will affect Botswana as the country imports most of its food needs from South Africa.


“The strain on poor households, who spend as much as 60 percent of their income on food, could be acute. The resulting malnutrition could lead to an increase in severe stunting in Africa of 23 percent,” the World Bank said.


In Botswana, agricultural contribution to the GDP has been on the decline with climate change being one of the contributors alongside the outbreak of the diseases.


The annual agricultural survey report for 2013 has revealed that livestock population generally has decreased between 2012 and 2013 agricultural seasons. Cattle population dropped from 2.2 million to 2.1 million, goats from 1.6 million to 1.5 million while sheep reduced from 293,966 to 274,357.


It said the crop sector did not perform well either with sorghum production falling steeply from 24,021 metric tons to 10,231 metric tons, maize from 7,677metric tons to 3,844 metric tons while millet dropped from 1,959 metric tons to 1,391 metric tons between 2012 and 2013.


“The declining performance of the sector is largely attributable to the unfavorable climatic conditions and endemic animal diseases, in particular the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD),” stated the survey.


Likewise, production of groundnuts fell from 200 metric tons to 112 metric tons, sunflower production from 6,000 metric to 2,021 metric tons. Only beans/pulses showed exceptional performance by registering an increase in production from 2,285 metric tons in 2012 to 3,655 metric tons in 2013.


Maize, sorghum, millet and beans/pulses are the major crops in terms of area planted (Table 2.3.2). Even though maize is still the predominant crop in the traditional sector, the total area planted decreased from 141,322 ha in 2012 to 126,091 ha in 2013 while for sorghum the total area planted increased from 63,018 to 67,552 ha during the same period.


When opening parliament early this week, President Ian Khama said the 2014/15 cropping season experienced drought conditions, which resulted in complete crop failure in many areas. He said the total area planted during the 2014/15 ploughing season thus decreased by 28%, while the total number of farmers who took part in arable farming also decreased by 37%.


“The national estimated cereals production for 2014/15 is estimated to stand at 68,000 metric tonnes (Mt.), which is only 22.7% of the national cereal requirement of 300,000 Mt. The whole country was, therefore, declared drought stricken following the 2014/2015 Drought and Household Food Security assessment. To this end, Government has adopted relief measures for a period from July 2015 through to June 2016 to assist affected Batswana”


The World Bank has therefore suggested that to prevent this grim picture becoming reality, the report prescribes “good” development that is rapid, inclusive and climate-informed. This includes continuing and expanding programs that reduce poverty while increasing people’s capacity to prepare for and cope with shocks.


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