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Climate change could swap Kenya's food-producing areas
  • Climate change could swap Kenya's food-producing areas

Copyright: Flickr/Dagnachew Belachew/CDKNetwork

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  • Researchers assessed future impact of climate change on Kenya's farming

  • Some areas could benefit from climate change but not others, causing migration

  • A good policy today could avert future shifts in climate change, says co-author

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[NAIROBI]  There will be a geographic shift in agricultural production in Kenya — especially in maize growing areas — as climate change will make some parts of the country less productive while others more conducive to farming, a study reveals.
 
The study by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Association for Strengthening Agricultural Research in Eastern and Central Africa assessed the future impacts of climate change on farming and food security in Kenya.
 
It was released at a high level meeting on 16 September in Naivasha, Kenya, by the research program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research.
 
The report is part of an upcoming book by CCAFS and IFPRI that assesses the effects of climate change on agriculture in Kenya between 2010 and 2050.
 
Timothy Thomas, a research fellow at IFPRI and a coauthor of the report, says that their aim is to help policymakers better understand how climate change might impact on agriculture in their countries, and recommend policies that could help farmers adapt.
 
Although the report focuses on Kenya, the researchers also analysed the climate change policy environment in countries such as Burundi, DR Congo, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.
 
The researchers used climate models to estimate the impact of climate change on maize and wheat yields, not accounting for any adaptation or technological change. 
 
Thomas tells SciDev.Net that a good agricultural policy for today will be helpful in the future in addressing shifts in climatic conditions.
 
He adds: "Researchers can work together with the farmers to develop new crop varieties and livestock breeds along with supporting agronomic and husbandry methods, extension services and mechanisms for scaling up and out."
 
The researchers also found that in some countries such as Kenya and Uganda severe productivity losses will be experienced in some parts while in other areas farmers will gain due to favourable weather conditions, thus creating pressure for migration.
 
Amina Abdalla, the chair of Kenya's parliamentary committee on environment and natural resources, says that the Kenyan government should support research and the passing of climate change bill now pending before parliament.
 
"We need the government to support researchers to address challenges of climate change through financing," Abdalla says.

Link to full report

This article has been produced by SciDev.Net’s Sub-Saharan Africa desk.

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