Africa Talk

Playing out the future scenarios of agriculture

Agricultural productivity in the next 10 years remains questionable as a result of current climate change projections. 

This is according to the Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN), which warns of various climate-related threats to agriculture productivity, that include declining average rainfall and increasing temperatures, against a background of outdated food and agriculture policies.

Projections for South Africa’s climate over the next 30 years and beyond indicate significant warming of as high as 5–8°C, a major factor in determining how the country’s food systems will evolve. The country’s ability to ensure the sustainability, productivity, and resilience of the food system to meet the country’s food security and development needs remains a challenge. This is largely because of the speed with which the world is changing – whether from an environmental, social, technological or geo-political perspective. As a result, the ability to anticipate future climate scenarios has become critical to projecting the trajectory of food systems’ evolution.

To contribute to the understanding of future scenarios, FANRPAN in partnership with the University of Leeds has been leading the implementation of the Agricultural and Food-system Resilience: Increasing Capacity and Advising Policy (AFRICAP) research programme focused on improving evidence-based policy making to develop sustainable, productive, agricultural systems, resilient to climate change.

With multi-faceted studies being conducted in four countries, including South Africa, the programme aims to identify and implement evidence-based policy pathways that facilitate the development of sustainable, productive, and climate smart agricultural systems that guarantee food security and ensure economic development needs are met. Since 2017, the programme’s South African component led by the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) the FANRPAN node hosting institution in South Africa, has sought to establish farmers’ readiness to apply climate smart agricultural practices, with the study based in the Free State province.

FANRPAN believes that South African agriculture plans should be based on future scenarios that coopt multiple elements such as climate change and other socio-economic factors. Such an approach would hedge this critical sector against unforeseen shocks, such as the recent panic buying and hoarding of foodstuffs that was triggered largely by the government-imposed national lockdown as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and also due to a growing demand for food and shifting dietary trends of ever-expanding urban populations.

According to FANRPAN, there is considerable uncertainty surrounding the domestic factors that will determine the evolution of South Africa’s food system between now and 2050. The network is calling for the generation of scientific evidence to support any decisions aimed at transforming the country’s food systems.

Mzansi Agriculture Talk together with FANRPAN will release a series of these scenarios in the coming weeks. The Food, Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Analysis Network (FANRPAN) is an autonomous stakeholder-driven policy research, analysis and advocacy network.

Playing out the future scenarios of agriculture
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