According to a recent UN report, climate change poses a greater threat to food and security than previously thought. The IPCC warns that global warming is leading to more volatile weather patterns that have already begun reducing crop yields worldwide. As temperatures rise, rainfall patterns change, and pests and diseases spread.
Growing up in various countries in Africa, I was often witness to the type of erratic weather patterns described in the report. I vividly remember a particularly harsh drought in Tanzania the early 1980s, where almost no rain fell for several years. Water shortage in Dar es Salaam was such that lines of people were seen hauling sea water to their homes so that their toilets could be flushed. The little water that came out of the taps was carefully boiled and filtered for drinking and food preparation. People did what they could to save water, and prayed for bad weather.
What I also remember, is that the international community reacted rather surprisingly. Instead of simply sending food parcels to the worse hit areas in the North, it was decided to test out a completely new type of agriculture. Especially designed crops, adapted to the worse climates on earth, delivered very impressive results in less than a decade.
In one of my previous blogs “seeds of change” I mention that thanks to various technological advancements, Africa now has access to crops that are resistant to heat, droughts, floods and pests and may signify that in the future Africa will be exporting food, something that could never have been imagined a couple of decades ago.
It was the punishing climate in many parts of Africa that prompted these technological improvements, saving the African continent as a direct result. Perhaps these same crops will now save the world?