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Climate change threatens African crops: study

Up to 30 percent of areas growing maize and bananas may become unsuitable for the purpose this century, said the authors of a study in the journal Nature Climate Change. Photo/ AFP FILE

Up to 30 percent of areas growing maize and bananas may become unsuitable for the purpose this century, said the authors of a study in the journal Nature Climate Change. Photo/ AFP FILE

PARIS, France, Mar 8 – Climate change will claim vast swathes of land needed to grow staple food crops in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly maize, bananas and beans, researchers warned Monday.

Up to 30 percent of areas growing maize and bananas may become unsuitable for the purpose this century, said the authors of a study in the journal Nature Climate Change.

For beans, “this number rises up to 60 percent,” said a statement from the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture.

This was based on worst case-scenario climate change projections in which greenhouse gas emissions continue rising unabated and temperatures warm as much as 4.8 degrees Celsius (8.65 degrees Fahrenheit) over pre-Industrial levels this century.

Crops should be replaced with heat- and drought-resistant sorghum or millet to prevent food shortages, said the team.

“Given that solutions such as breeding improved crops can take a minimum of 15 years to complete, the report authors stress the urgency for action,” said the statement.

Banana-growing regions in West Africa will have to change their land use in the next ten years, as will bean-growing regions in Angola, South Africa, Uganda, Tanzania and Zimbabwe by 2050.

“All maize-growing regions in Niger will need to undergo transformation by 2100,” said the statement.

“Around 30 percent of Benin’s yam growing areas will be unsuitable by the end of the century, as well as 35 percent of Senegal’s groundnut-growing regions.”

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