Tuesday, December 18, 2007

African farmers adapting to climate change?

A new IFPRI working paper co-authored by Charles Nhemachena and Rashid Hassan from CEEPA sheds some light on the question how African farmers can better adapt to climate change. Policy options remain in enhanced access to credit, and better information on climate, agronomy and markets.

The paper argues further that government policies should support research and development on appropriate technologies to help farmers adapt to changes in climatic conditions. Examples of such policy measures include crop development, improving climate information forecasting, and promoting appropriate farm-level adaptation measures such as use of irrigation technologies.

This does make a lot of sense. Micro-credit schemes, better connectivity, early warning systems, science and research certainly will help in strenghtening the capacity to cope. Before sending only financial institutions, cellphone companies and researchers into the field there is another key question that needs to be addressed: whether more abrupt or even longer term gradual climatic changes will impose so much stress on African farming systems that such gradual adaptation measures will not be sufficient. Especially given that many African farming systems are already focussed on survival.

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