Changes in climate such as higher temperatures and reduced water supplies, along with other factors like biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation, affect agriculture. According to Science, a leading international research journal, by 2030 Southern Africa and South Asia will be the two regions in the world whose crop production will be most affected by climate change. For example, while wheat varieties grow well in temperatures between 15°C and 29°C, in sub-Saharan Africa the average annual temperature currently exceeds this mark during the growing season. Therefore, if current climate trends continue, by 2030 wheat production is likely to decline by 10% to 20% from 1998–2002 yields.
Food insecurity will likely lead to social unrest, as has been the case in the past. For example, between 2007 and 2008, riots took place in several countries when prices of staples peaked. In 2010, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Mozambique after wheat prices went up by 25% due to a global wheat shortage caused in part by wheat drop destroying wildfires from record heats in Russia. The increase in bread prices led to fires, violence, looting and even deaths.
There is a continuing argument as to whether the industrial agricultural revolution will solve some or all of Africa’s climate change problems. However, experts maintain that industrial agriculture currently accounts for one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions – the very element most responsible for climate change. Additionally, they believe that the resources and infrastructure required to operate an industrial agricultural system in Africa are impractical for smallholder farmers.
New machines also mean fewer hands, which may increase unemployment while reducing wages, thus affecting many who depend on agriculture. Because current practices cannot meet future demands, Africa must apply new and better approaches
Excerpts from CSRFiles Volume 3 Issue 4 February 2014