West Africa agriculture may benefit from climate change

Research findings from AgMIP West Africa Regional Research Team challenge common narrative for future of Agricultural Production in Africa

hathie_web Hathie will present AgMIP West Africa Regional Research Team findings this week.
While many studies suggest that climate change will negatively effect African agriculture, new findings challenge this general assumption. Impact assessment research from the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvement Program (AgMIP) suggests climate change impacts on African agriculture can, in some places and regions, have a net positive effect on farmers’ livelihoods.

Ibrahima Hathie, AgMIP West Africa Regional Research Team (RRT) co-Principal Investigator and economist, will discuss recent findings and this optimistic future at the International Technical Conference on Climate Change, Agricultural Trade and Food Security. Hosted at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Headquarters in Rome, Italy from 15-17 November, the conference will convene international organizations, academics, practitioners, and consultants to explore the linkages between climate change, agricultural trade, and food security.

Hathie’s presentation, Trade policy implications of climate change impacts on current and future agricultural systems in the semi-arid regions of West Africa, will present preliminary findings from West Africa RRT’s UK Department for International Development (DFID) phase 2 project. The presentation will discuss the AgMIP Regional Integrated Assessment (RIA) methodology, combining mid-century climate scenarios and model projections, biophysical/crop and economic models, representative agricultural pathways (RAPs), and global economic model projections, in the context of farmers from Nioro, Senegal, to demonstrate how climate change might benefit farmers in West Africa.

Nioro, Senegal is a semi-arid region where many rainfed smallholder farmers rely on maize, millet, peanut and livestock farming systems for their livelihoods. AgMIP West Africa team research suggests that despite some crops being negatively impacted by climate change, farmers in the region will mainly benefit from climate change (with exception of a hot and dry climate scenario). The negative impacts on maize and mixed impacts on millet yields are outweighed by the net-positive impacts on peanut production. Peanut is currently one of the major export crops for Senegal and plays a significant role in the state’s economy.

As climate change improves yield outputs for peanut, policy decisions at the state level, particularly international trade, will ultimately determine how beneficial peanut production can be for Senegalese farmers. The policy implications of this research are especially relevant for the FAO conference and their flagship publication, The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets (SOCO). The 2018 edition will focus on the role of agricultural trade and trade policies in promoting food security and sustainable agricultural production in the context of climate change. The new findings that Hathie will present may shift perspectives on African trade and food security under changing climatic conditions.

To access the paper abstract, click here.