Climate change and agriculture nexus in Sub-Saharan Africa: the agonizing reality for smallholder farmers

Climate change is one of the potent challenges facing smallholder farmers in sub-Saharan Africa in the recent past owing to the pattern and magnitude with which it presents the extreme events such as floods and drought. This review finds a general consensus that climate change is already happening in the region and the projections in the early, mid and end century all point to a much warmer future with highly variable rainfall across the region. These patterns in climate parameters is expected to trigger a negative trend in agricultural production for most food and cash crops in SSA. However, a few locations particularly the highland locations over eastern Africa will be expected to become more suitable for the production of some cereals such as maize leading to increased production. Overall, at present and in the future unless strategic interventions are judiciously implemented smallholder farmers in SSA produce below the optimal levels with considerable yield gaps in nearly all the cereals, legumes and tubers grown. Efforts to unlock the potential of smallholder farmers under the current and projected climate change situation ought to focus on strategic and systemic implementation of; options that yield multiple benefits such as climate smart agriculture, investing in capacity building at both technical and farmer level, creating multiple opportunities for investment capital including availing smallholders with credit as well as mobilizing private financing. Further, investing at the development of functional early and early warning systems, investing in agricultural value chains through a strategic focus on agribusinesses and gaining and strengthening political commitment through a focus on policy and governance in agricultural frameworks and processes. Finally, a no-one fit for all paradigm ought to be upheld at all time while dealing with smallholder farmers in SSA owing to the dynamic and complex farming systems under which they operate.
Date of publication: 
Region Focus: 
Africa Wide
RUFORUM Journal Articles
Licence conditions: 
Open Access
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Web resource