To ease your site search, article categories are at bottom of page.

February 28, 2010

Climate change: What will we be able to grow in another 40 years?

Temperatures seem set to soar to perilously high levels because of climate change. In another 40 years, would maize still be the staple food in Kenya, already hit by five failed rainy seasons? If not, what could people grow and eat? And if you could grow maize, how much water and fertilizer would it need?
If you live in the remote semi-arid Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda - beset by 14 droughts in 25 years - you might also want to know what your options are for continued food security.

For the first time, a customized regional climate model linked to crop growing and water models, run on a supercomputer at Michigan State University (MSU), will help provide crop breeders in three East African countries - Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania - with detailed answers on crop yields.

Many research institutions have been working on models to predict the impact of climate change on food production in Africa, but in a few months the MSU model will help scientists and breeders to zoom in at a regional level on the possible impact of climate change on a wide variety of crops in these countries.

The research could help produce climate-resilient varieties of food crops, said Jennifer Olson, lead researcher and associate professor at MSU's College of Communication Arts and Sciences.

"East Africa is already experiencing the impact of climate change - food crops are experiencing extreme water stress," she commented. People living in Kenya's highlands, who have traditionally grown tea and coffee, have begun experimenting with maize and beans as the climate has grown warmer.

Work on the model began 10 years ago with the recording of relevant data, such as the impact of nutrients on a certain food crop, or the impact of water stress on another, which were subsequently fed into the model. "The model is still being perfected," said Olson.

The model can experiment with the impact of climate change, such as high temperature and water stress on a certain crop variety, saving the time that would have been spent on field trials, "which will help speed up the agricultural research cycle", she noted.

The researchers intend to launch the model at a workshop in June. Concern about increasing food insecurity in East Africa has prompted two institutions to set up a research grants to encourage innovative solutions.

The New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), based in South Africa, and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI), in Nairobi, Kenya, announced a US$10.67 million grant from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) to support the establishment of a multidisciplinary competitive funding mechanism for biosciences in Burundi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda.

ILRI's Bruce Scott said they would be looking for innovative solutions using bioscience to improve crop resilience to climate change, or perhaps to improve the shelf-life of a food product.


IRIN

Article Categories

AGRA agribusiness agrochemicals agroforestry aid Algeria aloe vera Angola aquaculture banana barley beans beef bees Benin biodiesel biodiversity biof biofuel biosafety biotechnology Botswana Brazil Burkina Faso Burundi CAADP Cameroon capacity building cashew cassava cattle Central African Republic cereals certification CGIAR Chad China CIMMYT climate change cocoa coffee COMESA commercial farming Congo Republic conservation agriculture cotton cow pea dairy desertification development disease diversification DRCongo drought ECOWAS Egypt Equatorial Guinea Ethiopia EU EUREPGAP events/meetings expo exports fa fair trade FAO fertilizer finance fisheries floods flowers food security fruit Gabon Gambia gender issues Ghana GM crops grain green revolution groundnuts Guinea Bissau Guinea Conakry HIV/AIDS honey hoodia horticulture hydroponics ICIPE ICRAF ICRISAT IFAD IITA imports India infrastructure innovation inputs investment irrigation Ivory Coast jatropha kenaf keny Kenya khat land deals land management land reform Lesotho Liberia Libya livestock macadamia Madagascar maiz maize Malawi Mali mango marijuana markets Mauritania Mauritius mechanization millet Morocco Mozambique mushroom Namibia NEPAD Niger Nigeria organic agriculture palm oil pastoralism pea pest control pesticides pineapple plantain policy issues potato poultry processing productivity Project pyrethrum rai rain reforestation research rice rivers rubber Rwanda SADC Sao Tome and Principe seed seeds Senegal sesame Seychelles shea butter Sierra Leone sisal soil erosion soil fertility Somalia sorghum South Africa South Sudan Southern Africa spices standards subsidies Sudan sugar sugar cane sustainable farming Swaziland sweet potato Tanzania tariffs tea tef tobacco Togo tomato trade training Tunisia Uganda UNCTAD urban farming value addition value-addition vanilla vegetables water management weeds West Africa wheat World Bank WTO yam Zambia Zanzibar zero tillage Zimbabwe

  © 2007 Africa News Network design by Ourblogtemplates.com

Back to TOP