Overcoming the Barriers

How to ensure future food production under climate change in Southern Africa

Published: 9 November 2011
Author: 
Katharine Vincent, Alec Joubert, and Tracy Cull, Kulima Integrated Development Solutions; John Magrath, Oxfam GB; Peter Johnston, Climate Systems Analysis Group, University of Cape Town

Farmers in Southern Africa are experiencing changes to their climate that are different in magnitude to what they have experienced in the past. Farmers interviewed for this report say that these changes are increasing the risk of poor yields or crop failure.

The observations of farmers are largely borne out by meteorological data, particularly on rising temperatures – ongoing climate change, bringing increasing temperatures and changes to precipitation patterns, is projected to make food production more difficult.

For this report, Oxfam and Kulima Integrated Development Solutions interviewed farmers in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, and South Africa about their experiences of changes in climate. Farmers are already actively experimenting with changing agricultural practices, and looking for ways to diversify their livelihoods in response climate and other stresses, within their resource constraints. But where large-scale farmers, in the main, can access the resources needed to adapt, small-scale farmers face major obstacles.

Policy makers need to identify the barriers for farmers, particularly smallholder farmers, as they attempt to adapt to the new climate and other environmental, economic and political pressures. The UN climate conference (COP17) in South Africa in November–December 2011 is crucial for both cutting greenhouse gas emissions and for producing the additional finance needed by developing countries to adapt to climate change.

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