17 January 2014
No. 1606


5th AgMIP Eastern Africa regional meet
Assessing the impacts of climate change on farming systems in the drylands

Teams of climate-crop-economic modelers engaged in conducting the simulations and analyzing results at the 5th AgMIP Eastern Africa regional meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Photo: A Tigist, ICRISAT

Reviewing the progress made in assessing the impacts of climate change on farming systems in the semi-arid tropics and charting the way forward were the prime focus of the Agricultural Model Intercomparison and Improvements Project (AgMIP) Eastern Africa’s 5th regional meet held on 6-9 January in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Sixteen country team members representing the four national partners – Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia took part in the meet. The delegates recognized the significant progress the country teams have achieved in implementing the project work plans using the tools and protocols developed by the global AgMIP team.

Lack of site-specific climate change projections was identified as one of the key challenges in assessing the impacts of climate change. At the meeting, using the scripts developed by Dr Alex Ruane, leader of the global AgMIP climate team, the teams were able to generate future climate scenarios for a total of 59 stations in the four countries for mid (2040-2069) and end (2070-2099) century periods using outputs from 20 Global Circulation Models (GCMs) for 4.5 and 8.5 Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs).

The downscaled scenarios were found to be consistent with the global projections, both in magnitude and direction, and reflected well the uncertainty associated with the GCMs. A common feature of the most downscaled scenarios was the projection of a higher increase in minimum temperature compared to maximum temperature and a significant increase in the amount of rainfall.

Results from crop simulation analysis carried out with the downscaled climate scenarios suggested a general increase in maize yield, the main crop in the farming systems in the region, at most locations and for most GCMs. This is mainly due to the predicted increase in rainfall at these locations and also because the temperatures remained in the optimal range even after accounting for the projected increase. However, the magnitude and direction of these changes varied from one agro-ecology to the other and also in response to management practices used. A decline in yields is evident in the low altitude warmer agro-ecologies and under high-input management scenario.

The results also indicated that it is possible to minimize the negative impacts of climate change and capitalize on the positives through adoption of simple agronomic measures such as adjusting the amount of fertilizer applied, used, time of planting and plant population.

Economic analysis using Tradeoff Analysis Model for Multi-Dimensional Impact Assessment (ToA-MD) with results from crop simulation analysis suggested that the losses from the impacts of climate and other changes in the socio-economic conditions captured in the Representative Agricultural Pathways (RAPs) can be reduced to 14% with these adjustments. Overall, the assessment has contributed to a significant improvement in the understanding of local impacts of climate change and these results are expected to strengthen the climate change adaptation plans that all the four participating countries are developing currently.

AgMIP Eastern Africa is one of the five projects operating in sub-Saharan Africa under the global initiative with support from UK Aid and is led by ICRISAT-Ethiopia. The project has generated considerable interest among participating institutions for: being the only project to make a comprehensive assessment of climate impacts by linking climate-crop-economic modeling; having a significant capacity improvement element which contributed to the establishment of teams of researchers with required skills; providing young and aspiring researchers an opportunity to work with a highly reputed and globally acknowledged team of scientists.

“This project has changed us in all aspects of our work. Besides the additional skills and knowledge acquired, it is a practical demonstration of the power of collective work. Now we are more rational, objective and quantitative in our approach. This is something we can continue to make use of in all our future work,” Dr Siza Tumbo, Tanzania country team leader said of the project.

This activity was undertaken under the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

back to top Back to top

Deputy Director of China’s Oil Crops Research Institute visits ICRISAT in Mali

Drs L Boshou (left) and F Waliyar (Right) with Mr C Zhongming
at the meeting. Photo: ICRISAT

Dr Liao Boshou, Deputy Director and Professor of the Oil Crops Research Institute, Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (OCRI-CAAS) visited the ICRISAT office in Bamako, Mali on 8-14 January.

During his visit, Dr Boshou presented a seminar on “Groundnut Improvement and Industry Development in China” attended by ICRISAT scientists and partners from the Institut d’Economie Rurale (IER). In his presentation, he discussed how China has made significant progress in groundnut research from 1983 to 2012, with research priorities on germplasm, genomics/molecular markers development, utilization of wild species, breeding, mechanization, and food safety.

Dr Boshou, a groundnut breeder himself, has been instrumental in many collaborative works by OCRI and ICRISAT. “The cooperation between the institutes has been very fruitful and impactful. OCRI has benefited a lot from technologies related to aflatoxin management,” he said. Both institutes are currently exploring ways for more intensified cooperation.

After the seminar, Dr Farid Waliyar, ICRISAT Regional Director, West and Central Africa with Dr Boshou met with Mr Cao Zhongming, Ambassador of China in Mali to discuss opportunities for partnerships and bilateral funding.

At the meeting, the Ambassador briefed the delegates of a project to build a center for agricultural research and technology demonstration in Mali which will be used to conduct experiments and technical training. The center will be on a 20-ha land in the Koulikoro region, 40 kilometers from Bamako, and will focus on the development of the production of rice, maize and horticultural products.

back to top Back to top