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March 3rd, 2019 / Genetic Literacy Project, US

Climate change will have a dramatic impact on agricultural production in Africa.  Over the last century, temperatures across the continent increased by around 0.5 degrees Centigrade. If this trend continues as expected, extreme heat waves and droughts are likely to become more common. Climate estimates suggest that there could be an average rise of 4 to 6 degrees centigrade in Africa in the 2071-2100 period relative to 1971-2000.

Corn growing regions in southern Africa are particularly vulnerable, with yield losses for South Africa and Zimbabwe predicted to be in excess of 30 percent. Notable export crops such as tea, coffee and cocoa also are expected to suffer.

And with Africa’s population projected to swell from 1.3 billion to 2.5 billion by 2050, the continent will be pressed to increase food production in the face of intense droughts and desertification, particularly in the Sahel region.

Many scientists and crop researchers see genetically engineered crops and animals as key to the continent’s hopes for coping with climate change, going forward. Even as many African nations are still struggling over whether to allow the commercialization of GMOs, researchers are pushing to develop new seeds and animals to counter the rising threat. Read more