An alarming new study suggests that time is running out for the continent due to global warming.
Drastic action will be necessary to help farmers adjust to the changing climate, or sub-Saharan Africa will run into a major food shortage, a new study is claiming.
The study, led by Julian Ramirez-Villegas of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), examined nine crops which make up half of the food production in the region. It came to the alarming conclusion that up to 60 percent of areas that produce beans will become unviable by 2100, as will 30 percent of areas where maize and bananas is grown, according to a University of Leeds statement.
“We know what needs to be done, and for the first time, we now have deadlines for taking action,” Ramirez-Villegas said.
In the future, that could mean changing the type of crop the farmers grow or perhaps even totally abandoning crop farming. It could also mean a shift in diet, with more sorghum and millet — crops resistant to drought — being consumed instead of more vulnerable crops like maize.
And farmers don’t have a lot of time. The study found that land in the banana-growing regions of West Africa will become unviable as soon as 2025. West Africa is particularly vulnerable to climate change and global warming, and will need the most extreme measures to adapt.
Southern Africa is also running out of time, with less than a decade left before climate change really starts to become a problem.
“Agriculture needs to be flexible as it responds to climate change, and this study shows where and when transformations will be needed,” Professor Andy Challinor from the School of Earth and Environment at the University of Leeds said in the statement. “The study predicts that within the next decade many maize- and banana-growing areas of sub-Saharan Africa will not be suitable for those crops. Banana imports from sub-Saharan Africa to the UK have more than doubled since 2001, showing that this issue has implications well beyond Africa’s borders. The places in which crops are grown will need to alter as climate changes. The key is to plan for those changes.”