New Report: “The Complexities of Climate Change Adaptation in South African Agriculture”

Findlater, K. (2013). The Complexities of Climate Change Adaptation in South African Agriculture. Backgrounder No. 50. The African Portal. 1-8.


  • Agriculture is a complex and politically contentious industry in South Africa, given its connection to food security, water, health and land reform, and the historic resource imbalances between black and white farmers.
  • As a large country with many fully allocated water basins, different parts of South Africa will face unique challenges related to climate change.
  • Given the varying levels of adaptive capacity between large-scale commercial operations and emerging smallholder farms, South Africa’s national policy response must be prioritized to ensure cohesive and nuanced support for climate change adaptation.

For more information click here.

New Article: ‘Adapting to climate change in South Africa: commercial farmers’ perception of and response to changing climate’

Wild, N. and Ziervogel, G. (2012). Adapting to climate change in South Africa: commercial farmers’ perception of and response to changing climate. South African Geographical Journal, 94 (2): 152-173.

Abstract: Understanding how and why farmers have responded to past climatic change is a necessary step to informing how to support current and future adaptation. This paper explores commercial farmers’ perceptions of and responses to shifting climates in the Little Brak River area along South Africa’s south coast. It aims to evaluate changes in the climate experienced in the area by comparing quantitative statistical analyses of temperature, rainfall and wind data recorded from 1967 to 2009, with qualitative historical narratives and formulated perceptions of change for the same period. This was undertaken in order to test the robustness of the narratives and to understand how farmers’ perceptions and experiences drive their climate-related decisions. Continue reading

A New Report: ‘OECD-FAO Agricultural Outlook 2010-2019’

Foreword: This report covers biofuels, cereals, oilseeds, sugar, meats, and dairy products over the 2010-19 period. The market assessments are based on a set of underlying assumptions regarding macroeconomic factors, agricultural and trade policies and production technologies. They also assume normal average weather conditions and longterm productivity trends. The Outlook’s relatively stable price projections are highly conditional on these assumptions, and on the continuation of domestic policies and policy settings. For instance, an agreement of the Doha round of multilateral trade negotiations would likely have a considerable impact on the prospects for agricultural markets as contained in this assessment. Nevertheless, the Outlook presents a consistent view on the evolution of global agricultural markets over the next decade and provides a baseline for further analysis of alternative economic or policy assumptions. Continue reading

‘Small Producer Agency in Globalised Markets Video’

Associate to compete?
Give their products value added?
Make part of supply chains?
Diversify Products and Markets?
Manage information and regulations?
Which public policies might be favourable?

These dilemmas show some of the knowledge gaps that small scale farmers have to fill in order to position themselves in more and more globalized markets and make informed decisions.

Today, more than ever, after the food crisis of 2007-2008, governments and private sector are showing greater interest in agriculture and food supply for a fast growing and more urban world population. Today small scale farmers are facing great challenges.

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‘UN report calls for ‘more vegetarianism’ and less use of fossil fuels’

 OSLO: An overhaul of world farming and more vegetarianism should be top priorities to protect the environment, with curbs on fossil fuel use, a UN-backed study said yesterday.

The report said food production and fossil fuel use caused pollution, greenhouse gases, diseases and forest destruction.

“How the world is fed and fuelled will in large part define development in the 21st century,” said the 112-page report by the International Panel for Sustainable Resource Management.

“Agricultural production accounts for a staggering 70 percent of the global fresh-water consumption, 38 percent of the total land use and 14 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions,” said Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme.

The report said consumers could help by cutting down on meat consumption and use of fossil fuels in heating or travel. “Animal products are important because more than half of the world’s crops are used to feed animals, not people.

“A substantial reduction of impacts would only be possible with a substantial worldwide diet change, away from animal products.”

Researchers said it was no surprise fossil fuels were a top concern.

“More surprising was food production – agriculture, fishing and pasture,” Edgar Hertwich, lead author at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, said.

Reform “will be a titanic task, but one that is essential for our future prosperity and quality of life”, Janez Potocnik, European Environment Commissioner, said in a statement.

Increasing wealth in developing nations could mean more damage, such as more demand for meat.

“Meat consumption per capita in China rose by 42 percent over eight years from 1995 to 2003,” said Sangwon Suh of the University of California, Santa Barbara.

The study also said that the world should focus on improving use of materials such as plastics, iron, steel and aluminium.

Janet Salem of Unep said the report should remind people in urban areas that clearance of distant forests – making way for farmland and destroying habitats of animals and plants – could be traced to their choice of food in supermarkets.

“Faraway environmental impacts are related to people in cities,” she said.

Alister Doyle in  today’s Cape Times (June 3, 2010)

Article available here

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Article on the role of indigenous knowledge in adapting to drought in Kenya

Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, Boniface Kiteme, Peter Ambenje, Urs Wiesmann and Samuel Makali ‘Indigenous knowledge related to climate variability and change: insights from droughts in semi-arid areas of former Makueni District, Kenya’ 2010 (100:2) Climatic Change 295-315

This article describes the indigenous knowledge (IK) that agro-pastoralists in larger Makueni District, Kenya hold and how they use it to monitor, mitigate and adapt to drought. It examines ways of integrating IK into formal monitoring, how to enhance its value and acceptability. Data was collected through target interviews, group discussions and questionnaires covering 127 households in eight villages. Daily rainfall data from 1961–2003 were analysed. Results show that agro-pastoralists hold IK on indicators of rainfall variability; they believe in IK efficacy and they rely on them. Continue reading

Food, water driving 21st-century African land grab

We turned off the main road to Awassa, talked our way past security guards and drove a mile across empty land before we found what will soon be Ethiopia’s largest greenhouse. Nestling below an escarpment of the Rift Valley, the development is far from finished, but the plastic and steel structure already stretches over 20 hectares — the size of 20 football pitches.

The farm manager shows us millions of tomatoes, peppers and other vegetables being grown in 500m rows in computer controlled conditions. Spanish engineers are building the steel structure, Dutch technology minimises water use from two bore-holes and 1 000 women pick and pack 50 tonnes of food a day. Within 24 hours, it has been driven 320km to Addis Ababa and flown 1 600km to the shops and restaurants of Dubai, Jeddah and elsewhere in the Middle East. Continue reading


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