Journal Article

Implications of Climate Change for Agricultural Sector Performance in Africa: Policy Challenges and Research Agenda

Rashid M. Hassan

in Journal of African Economies

Volume 19, issue suppl_2, pages ii77-ii105
Published in print August 2010 | ISSN: 0963-8024
Published online August 2010 | e-ISSN: 1464-3723 | DOI:
Implications of Climate Change for Agricultural Sector Performance in Africa: Policy Challenges and Research Agenda

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The paper analysed how climate change (CC) has shaped African agriculture in the past and how it might impact on African farm economies in the future and what adaptation strategies African farmers have adopted to cope with these changes. The analyses covered all key farming systems and agro-climates of Africa in 11 countries in which data were collected from over 10,000 farm household surveys. Results provided evidence that African agriculture and the welfare of its rural population are vulnerable to CC. The highest risk of future CC damages is associated with specialised crop and livestock farming (mono systems) particularly under dryland conditions in arid and semi-arid regions. This indicates how difficult it is to achieve an African green revolution under the current high reliance on dryland systems (more than 95% of the land) given predicted harsh future climates (warmer and dryer projections) for most of the dryland areas in Africa. It will require substantial public and private investments in expanding irrigation and development of crop varieties and animal breeds that are tolerant to heat, water and low fertility stresses, and in building roads and marketing infrastructures that will improve access to critical inputs (e.g., fertiliser) and output trade. This essentially requires mainstreaming climate sensitivity as an integral component of all agricultural and broader economic development planning and policy design. Although the expected damages are large, many farming systems and communities in Africa face serious limiting conditions which reduce their ability to adapt and hence increase their vulnerability. Among the key factors found to constrain African farmers’ ability to adopt effective adaptation measures are poor access to information, capital, technology and markets. Policies aimed at promoting farm-level adaptation need to emphasise the critical role of farmers’ education; provision of improved climate, production and market information and the means to implement adaptations through affordable credit facilities. Other needed public interventions to help promote adaptation measures and reduce vulnerability include insurance against climate risks to farmers and provision of safety nets.

Keywords: Q54

Journal Article.  8583 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Economics

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