Climate change is evident throughout the world, creating rising sea levels, unpredictable weather patterns, and catastrophic events such as hurricanes, wildfires, and floods. Although everyone bears the brunt of this startling reality, developing regions, such as those found in Africa, are hit the hardest by these swings in nature. What was once almost an afterthought believed to affect only a few unfortunate individuals in distant areas, climatic shifts are now grabbing more headlines and threatening a massive number of communities, local and overseas. To prepare for significant environmental changes, governments are now emphasizing the need for investments in agriculture to improve productivity.
A recent report published by the United Nations confirms that the window of opportunity to address this concern is rapidly shrinking. Sanjeev Mansotra has reviewed a few ways in which climate change has dreadfully impacted developing countries within Africa.
The far-reaching impacts of climate change continue to surpass previous scientific forecasts, so many global organizations are working to deliver climate-smart agriculture to developing nations. According to Sanjeev Mansotra helping local farmers to diversify their crops, while familiarizing them with technological advancements, will help mitigate the long-term effects of climate change.
Severe weather conditions in developing nations have a detrimental effect on both crop yields and livestock, which has a direct impact on food supply. A transition to productive agricultural systems will help locals maximize their food supply in the face of severe climate events and frequent droughts. Enhanced resilience to unforeseen weather patterns is achieved by reducing vulnerability to pests and disease through programs such as integrated pest management and the use of agrochemicals.
To respond to the global threat of climate change, organizations are implementing a wide range of approaches such as the “eat what you grow, grow what you eat” mentality to maximize the use of natural processes and ecosystems. Climate risk management is at the forefront of investment projects and include implementing processes such as:
Nitrogen Fixation: This innovative technology enables crops to take nitrogen from the air as opposed to environmentally damaging fertilizers. Nitrogen fixation is the process in which atmospheric nitrogen is assimilated into organic compounds through chemical and biological processes.
Sanjeev states that access to fixed or available forms of nitrogen limits the productivity of crops and as a result food production. Ultimately even a small increase in available nitrogen will enable a substantial yield increase in low-input farming systems in developing countries.
Fallow Management: Fallow ground is soil which has been left unplanted for an extended period of time, allowing the land to regenerate. Fallowing enables potassium and phosphorus to rise towards the surface which is then used to produce higher crop yields. Crop replenishment ultimately reduces the cost spent on fertilizers and advanced irrigation systems by utilizing a two-field rotation method.
The primary goal of sustainable fallow management is to conserve residue from previous crop yields, while containing excess weed growth. This highly effective practice has been widely embraced by farmers globally and is an important tool for pest and disease management.
Agroforestry: Agroforestry is a land use management system where a combination of trees, crops, and livestock are managed as an entire unit. The benefits are the result of positive interactions between various components of these systems. Enhanced plant and animal diversity helps to reduce soil loss by conserving moisture and improves crop yields by recycling nutrients. Ultimately in developing nations, the utilization of agroforestry can help to alleviate poverty and improve land degradation.
Teaching communities how to manage their natural resources will help them identify ways to assess damage and develop proactive solutions. Ultimately, Sanjeev Monsotra strongly believes that improving the capacity to adapt to various weather conditions through localized solutions will increase the likelihood of crop survival while decreasing the risk of poverty and extreme hunger.