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October 31st, 2019

Grain demand is booming in East Africa – but supply is threatened by climate change

The grain sector, and its entire value chain, play an important role in enhancing food security, household incomes and job creation in East Africa. This is especially important given the rapidly increasing Sub-Saharan population. However, the climate vulnerability of the sector is clear to see. This year, for example, Kenya’s late rains led to a 45% reduction in the planted area of long rains maize — according to an assessment by the Climate Prediction and Application Center (ICPAC).

Given the surge in demand for grain in East Africa, grain imports to the region could increase threefold by 2050 if local production is not significantly improved, according to Bhavni Bunge, an expert on international grain trade trends.

Climate change poses a major challenge to increasing regional supply to meet demand. Not only does climate change affect the yields of various crops, but it can increase post-harvest losses; for example, when increased rainfall and damp lead to the growth of aflatoxins in stored grain (aflatoxins are poisonous carcinogens that are produced by certain moulds). Read more …