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Photo by World Bank Photo Collection via Creative Commons
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer
If climate change keeps temperatures rising, staple crops in eight East and Southern African countries could decrease by up to 80% by midcentury. According to a new report by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a 2-degree Celsius increase in temperature (which the world is currently on track to hit) would have “a devastating impact” on small-scale farms in Angola, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The report also recommends several actions to cope with more erratic rainfall, longer droughts, and higher temperatures, including diversifying what crops are planted and improving irrigation systems.
Why This Matters: Everyone is impacted by climate change, but small-scale farmers in these countries are essential to life itself, but underfunded: they produce a third of the world’s food yet receive less than 2% of global climate dollars. Without adaptation, their harvests won’t be as reliable. Crop failures are immediately harmful to the farmers’ livelihoods and well-being, and result in lessened food availability, higher prices, and ultimately, food insecurity.
“The very survival of rural farming communities depends on their ability to adapt,” Dr. Jyotsna Puri, IFAD’s Associate Vice President of the Strategy and Knowledge Department, said in a statement.
Case Study: Mozambique
Small-scale farmers in Mozambique grow staple crops like cassava and some fruits, including avocados and bananas, and keep cattle and goats. The root crop cassava is relatively climate-resilient, but it’s expected to have lower yields across the country. Better planting materials, access to equipment to process the cassava, and better pest monitoring tools can help keep the plants healthy.
Water infrastructure is flagged as especially important in Mozambique on multiple levels: to provide freshwater supply for people, to irrigate for crops, and to mitigate flooding from increasingly heavy downpours.
A Focus on Farming at COP26
At COP26, IFAD is focusing specifically on rural, small-scale producers like the farms described in this report. “If they can’t adapt to climate change, the world’s food systems will be in serious trouble,” Dr. Puri said in an internal interview.
By Natasha Lasky, ODP Staff Writer With drought continuing in the West, and the summer’s historic floods throughout Europe, the world is wondering how climate change will also affect the way we eat. This controversial question was addressed by agriculture experts, NGOs, government officials, and corporate leaders at Peas, Trees, and 1.5 Degrees, a Climate […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer In the lead-up to today’s United Nations Food Systems Summit, young activists spoke about their priorities for the global gathering at yesterday’s Food is the Future event. At the event, youth representatives from worldwide interviewed adult peers in the world of food system work. In an effort to […]
By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Investing in small-scale local farm activities can take on rural poverty, sustainability, and nutrition challenges according to a report released today by the UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development. The report, Transforming Food Systems for Rural Prosperity, recommends supporting all elements of food production, not just growing crops. Expanding […]
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