Near-term climate change impacts on food crops productivity in East Africa

Title Near-term climate change impacts on food crops productivity in East Africa
Publication Type Journal Article
Year of Publication 2023
Authors Choi, Y.-W. & Eltahir, E. A. B.
Journal Theoretical and Applied Climatology
Date Published 22 March
Publisher Springer Nature

Crop production in East Africa (i.e., Sudan and Ethiopia), where economy relies largely on rainfed agriculture, is facing significant challenges due to climate change, population growth, and the slow adoption rate of agricultural technology. However, a lack of consensus exists on how near-term climate change may affect food crop productivity in the region through changes in temperature and precipitation. Here, we empirically estimate optimal-growing temperature and precipitation for a select group of food crops using historical observations. We then project climate change impacts on crop yields based on a non-parametric empirical crop model using, as input, results from high-resolution (20 km) regional climate model driven by CMIP5/CMIP6 global climate models. Our projections consistently show increases in growing season temperature and precipitation during 2021–2050 under RCP8.5 and SSP5-8.5 scenarios, relative to 1976–2000. However, the projected climate change will exert dramatically different impacts on the agricultural sectors across the region. That is, the significant warming would likely cause overall negative impacts on agriculture in Sudan and mixed impacts on agriculture in Ethiopia. Meanwhile, the weak wetting trend may marginally affect crop growth in East Africa. The negative impacts of climate change can be mitigated at least partially by an accelerating rate of adoption of agricultural technology (use of fertilizers, better seeds, etc.) and probably by horizontal expansion of croplands where precipitation is projected to increase. Our results suggest that East Africa will need to take proactive adaptation measures to mitigate the projected food production challenges.

Google Scholar