Posts Tagged ‘climate change’

New publications: Understanding changes in farming systems to propose adapted solutions

Researchers identify national policies, climate and soil fertility changes, population increase, and urban expansion as the major drivers of farming systems change in the Hawassa area of Ethiopia.

By Frédéric Baudron and Natasha Nagarajan

Farming systems are moving targets. Agricultural Research and Development (R&D) must understand where they come from and where they are going to offer solutions that are adapted. This is one of the main objectives of the Trajectories and Trade-offs for Intensification of Cereal-based systems (ATTIC), project funded by the CGIAR Research Program on Maize (MAIZE) and implemented by the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) and the Farming System Ecology group at Wageningen University & Research.

Biofortified crops address the world’s ‘hidden hunger’

Biofortified ‘gorilla beans’, rich in protein, iron and zinc, have been bred to target malnutrition in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Biofortification enhances the vitamin and mineral content of staple crops that people eat every day. Photo by CIAT.

Feeding the world is about more than just satisfying stomachs. Food scientists and nutritionists have long recognized that the foods we eat not only need to fill us up, but nourish our bodies as well.

The problem of ‘hidden hunger’ — deficiencies in essential vitamins and minerals — continues to pose serious threats to populations and economies around the world. A lack of micronutrients like iron, zinc and vitamin A in diets can lead to blindness, disease or even death, particularly for women and for children under the age of five.

Climate change expected to hit northern Central American countries disproportionately

By Natasha Nagarajan

A recent study by the International Food Policy Research Institute estimates that rainfed maize yields in countries in northern Central America are at the highest risk of crop loss as a result of climate change in the region.

Maize crops occupy more than 36% of total cultivated land in Central America and almost 19% in the Andean countries. IFPRI’s study examined potential impacts of climate change through the year 2050. According to the results, Costa Rica is expected to suffer the hardest blow to maize yields, at an almost 17% loss, with Honduras following behind at around 12%.

Maize productivity must increase four-fold to meet growing demand in Africa; implications for low emissions development?

By Hein ten Berge and Martin van Ittersum (Wageningen University & Research)


Demand for maize, a staple crop in sub-Saharan Africa, is growing. Can the region achieve self-sufficient production without converting natural lands to cropland? Photo: CCAFS

Steep population growth and changing dietary preferences will quadruple maize demand in sub-Saharan Africa. Can production keep up? At what cost to climate change?

Using data from Burkina Faso, Ghana, Mali and Nigeria in West Africa and from Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia in East Africa, our research shows that average production of 1.7 t/ha of maize in 2010 must increase to 6.8 t/ha to meet estimated demand in 2050.  

To achieve this, per-hectare maize output must grow by about 3.5% per year, a rate never witnessed at national or supra-national scales anywhere in the world in rainfed agriculture.

Corresponding nutrient inputs must grow by over 7% annually to prevent further soil depletion and degradation.

Are such yield increases possible? 

Our answer is a resounding yes. Using the Global Yield Gap Atlas, we calculated an average rainfed yield ceiling of 9.2 t/ha for maize across the nine countries, with area-weighted country averages ranging from 6 t/ha in Tanzania to over 12 t/ha in Ethiopia.