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Thornton P.K.,CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change | Herrero M.,CSIRO
Global Food Security | Year: 2014

Mixed crop-livestock systems produce most of the world's milk and ruminant meat, and are particularly important for the livelihoods and food security of poor people in developing countries. These systems will bear the brunt of helping to satisfy the burgeoning demand for food from increasing populations, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, where rural poverty and hunger are already concentrated. The potential impacts of changes in climate and climate variability on these mixed systems are not that well understood, particularly as regards how the food security of vulnerable households may be affected. There are many ways in which the mixed systems may be able to adapt to climate change in the future, including via increased efficiencies of production that sometimes provide important mitigation co-benefits as well. But effective adaptation will require an enabling policy, technical, infrastructural and informational environment, and the development challenge is daunting. © 2014 Elsevier B.V. Source


Thornton P.K.,CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change | Thornton P.K.,CSIRO | Herrero M.,CSIRO
Nature Climate Change | Year: 2015

Mixed crop-livestock systems are the backbone of African agriculture, providing food security and livelihood options for hundreds of millions of people. Much is known about the impacts of climate change on the crop enterprises in the mixed systems, and some, although less, on the livestock enterprises. The interactions between crops and livestock can be managed to contribute to environmentally sustainable intensification, diversification and risk management. There is relatively little information on how these interactions may be affected by changes in climate and climate variability. This is a serious gap, because these interactions may offer some buffering capacity to help smallholders adapt to climate change. © 2015 Macmillan Publishers Limited. Source


Jones P.G.,Waen Associates | Thornton P.K.,CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change
Agricultural Systems | Year: 2013

We describe a generalised downscaling and data generation method that takes the outputs of a General Circulation Model and allows the stochastic generation of daily weather data that are to some extent characteristic of future climatologies. Such data can then be used to drive any agricultural model that requires daily (or otherwise aggregated) weather data. The method uses an amalgamation of unintelligent empirical downscaling, climate typing and weather generation. We outline a web-based software tool (http://gismap.ciat.cgiar.org/MarkSimGCM) to do this for a subset of the climate models and scenario runs carried out for the 2007 Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. We briefly assess the tool and comment on its use and limitations. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. Source


News Article
Site: http://news.yahoo.com/green/

The carcass of a cow lies in a field in Disaneng village outside Mafikeng, South Africa, January 28, 2016. REUTERS/Sydney Seshibedi More BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Without action to help farmers adjust to changing climate conditions, it will become impossible to grow some staple food crops in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, with maize, beans and bananas most at risk, researchers said on Monday. In a study of how global warming will affect nine crops that make up half the region's food production, scientists found that up to 30 percent of areas growing maize and bananas, and up to 60 percent of those producing beans could become unviable by the end of the century. Six of the nine crops - cassava, groundnut, pearl millet, finger millet, sorghum and yam - are projected to remain stable under moderate and extreme climate change scenarios. "This study tells where, and crucially when, interventions need to be made to stop climate change destroying vital food supplies in Africa," said Julian Ramirez-Villegas, the study's lead author who works with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). "We know what needs to be done, and for the first time, we now have deadlines for taking action,” he added in a statement. For example, the study warns that around 40 percent of maize-growing areas will require "transformation", which could mean changing the type of crop grown, or in extreme cases even abandoning crop farming. Sorghum and millet, which have higher tolerance to drought and heat, could replace maize in most places under threat. But for 0.5 percent of maize-growing areas - equal to 0.8 million hectares in South Africa that now produce 2.7 million tonnes - there is no viable crop substitution, the study said. In a few places, the need to adapt to climate change is already urgent, the researchers said. Those include pockets in highly climate-exposed areas of the Sahel in Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger. Banana-growing regions of West Africa, including areas in Ghana and Benin, will need to act within the next decade, as the land is expected to become unsuitable for bananas by 2025. And maize-growing areas of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania also have less than 10 years left to change tack under the most extreme climate change scenarios, the study added. "If we don't do anything now, farmers are no longer going to be able to grow certain crops in certain sites," Ramirez-Villegas told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Colombia. "But we know there are several adaptation options ... with which farmers should be able to carry on growing these crops for a longer period of time than we project." Those options begin with shorter-term actions like improving irrigation and weather information services for farmers, and developing new varieties of maize and beans that can better tolerate heat and drought. Such measures are already underway in parts of Africa, including the "Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa" initiative that has released 160 varieties, benefiting up to 40 million people in 13 countries. But governments will still need to re-assess agricultural and food security policies to see whether bigger transformations are needed, such as switching to different crops or livestock. If so, they will need to help farmers access markets or build processing and storage facilities for new crops. CCAFS researcher Andy Jarvis, a co-author of the paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, noted adjusting national policies can take decades. "Our findings show that time is running out to transform African agriculture. This will require not only increased funding but also a supportive policy environment to bring the needed solutions to those affected," he said. A separate study released on Monday, by researchers from Brown and Tufts universities, suggested scientists have overlooked how two important human responses to climate will impact food production in the future: how much land people choose to farm, and the number of crops they plant. Looking at Mato Grosso, a key soy-producing state in Brazil, they found a temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius was tied to substantial decreases in crop area and double cropping, accounting for 70 percent of the overall loss in production. Only 30 percent was attributable to falling crop yield.


News Article
Site: http://news.yahoo.com/science/

BARCELONA (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Without action to help farmers adjust to changing climate conditions, it will become impossible to grow some staple food crops in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, with maize, beans and bananas most at risk, researchers said on Monday. In a study of how global warming will affect nine crops that make up half the region's food production, scientists found that up to 30 percent of areas growing maize and bananas, and up to 60 percent of those producing beans could become unviable by the end of the century. Six of the nine crops - cassava, groundnut, pearl millet, finger millet, sorghum and yam - are projected to remain stable under moderate and extreme climate change scenarios. "This study tells where, and crucially when, interventions need to be made to stop climate change destroying vital food supplies in Africa," said Julian Ramirez-Villegas, the study's lead author who works with the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). "We know what needs to be done, and for the first time, we now have deadlines for taking action,” he added in a statement. For example, the study warns that around 40 percent of maize-growing areas will require "transformation", which could mean changing the type of crop grown, or in extreme cases even abandoning crop farming. Sorghum and millet, which have higher tolerance to drought and heat, could replace maize in most places under threat. But for 0.5 percent of maize-growing areas - equal to 0.8 million hectares in South Africa that now produce 2.7 million tonnes - there is no viable crop substitution, the study said. In a few places, the need to adapt to climate change is already urgent, the researchers said. Those include pockets in highly climate-exposed areas of the Sahel in Guinea, Gambia, Senegal, Burkina Faso and Niger. Banana-growing regions of West Africa, including areas in Ghana and Benin, will need to act within the next decade, as the land is expected to become unsuitable for bananas by 2025. And maize-growing areas of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Tanzania also have less than 10 years left to change tack under the most extreme climate change scenarios, the study added. "If we don't do anything now, farmers are no longer going to be able to grow certain crops in certain sites," Ramirez-Villegas told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from Colombia. "But we know there are several adaptation options ... with which farmers should be able to carry on growing these crops for a longer period of time than we project." Those options begin with shorter-term actions like improving irrigation and weather information services for farmers, and developing new varieties of maize and beans that can better tolerate heat and drought. Such measures are already underway in parts of Africa, including the "Drought Tolerant Maize for Africa" initiative that has released 160 varieties, benefiting up to 40 million people in 13 countries. But governments will still need to re-assess agricultural and food security policies to see whether bigger transformations are needed, such as switching to different crops or livestock. If so, they will need to help farmers access markets or build processing and storage facilities for new crops. CCAFS researcher Andy Jarvis, a co-author of the paper published in the journal Nature Climate Change, noted adjusting national policies can take decades. "Our findings show that time is running out to transform African agriculture. This will require not only increased funding but also a supportive policy environment to bring the needed solutions to those affected," he said. A separate study released on Monday, by researchers from Brown and Tufts universities, suggested scientists have overlooked how two important human responses to climate will impact food production in the future: how much land people choose to farm, and the number of crops they plant. Looking at Mato Grosso, a key soy-producing state in Brazil, they found a temperature rise of 1 degree Celsius was tied to substantial decreases in crop area and double cropping, accounting for 70 percent of the overall loss in production. Only 30 percent was attributable to falling crop yield.

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