According to a study published in Nature Mar. 7, some of the Dark Continent’s most widely grown crops including bananas, maize, and beans would become impossible to cultivate especially across key regions in sub-Saharan Africa by the end of the century.
Researchers explained that unchecked changes brought by climate change in the area would make major crops unavailable. The study found that the most threatened crops are bananas, maize and beans, while yam, sorghum, and millet would dwindle, but not perish.
Scientists called for “transformational change” to ensure that Africa’s crops and food security remain unaltered. The change involved swapping current crops with more resilient one, better irrigation systems, and abandon agriculture in high-risk regions.
The study also provides an approximate timescale pinpointing the worst-case-scenarios if no measures against climate change are taken:
In 2016, Africa should start make the switch to more resilient crops especially in high-risk areas across Senegal, Niger, Guinea, Gambia, and Burkina Faso which heavily rely on maze.
By 2025, if no measures are taken, parts of West Africa including Ghana would no longer be able to grow bananas. Plus, the maize crops of Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia, and Botswana would share the same fate.
By 2050, bean crops in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, and Angola would dwindle.
By 2100, Niger would no longer be able to grow maize because of climate change, according to the research. Additionally, 30 percent of Benin’s yam fields would be impacted and so would 35 percent of groundnut crops in Senegal. Furthermore, sub-Saharan Africa’s bean crops would decrease by 41 percent.
Julian Ramirez-Villegas, senior researcher involved in the latest analysis which was sponsored by CGIAR’s Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, noted that the study clearly shows when and where man should intervene to avoid the said worst-case-scenarios.
Ramirez-Villegas argued that interventions are crucial to prevent global warming from wreaking havoc among Africa’s “vital food supplies.” The researcher also said that for the first time humans had the deadlines for taking action.
Study authors acknowledged that more resilient crops would require 15 years to breed, but Africa’s agriculture has great potential. For instance, after being introduced by colonialists, maize needed only 100 years to replace traditional crops like sorghum and millet.
Andy Jarvis, another author of the study, noted that Africa is in a race against time to secure its food supply. Jarvis called for more funding and a new policy environment in the region to make change happen.
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