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Meridian Institute

DROUGHT: African Country's Growing Season May Decline 40% by 2050 Because of Climate Change

Summary posted by Meridian on 5/18/2015

Source: ClimateWire (15 May 2015)

Author(s): Niina Heikkinen

A new climate simulation analysis is showing that the African country of Malawi could have a growing season 20 to 40 percent shorter than it is today due to climate change-driven changes in rainfall. Corn is a staple crop in this country, where 80 percent of the people are smallholder farmers and 42 percent of children under the age of five are stunted from malnutrition. The team of researchers used a high-resolution regional climate model along with observations to come to their determination. Malawi’s crops are mainly fed by rain, so a shorter rainy season could have a compounding effect on food security in the country. Much of the land where corn is being grown is not suitable, or only marginally suitable, to grow the crop. "The effect is ... that even a small dry-spell leads to crop failure and leads into food security problems under such situations," said James Chimphamba, a lecturer in the Department of Geography and Earth Sciences at the University of Malawi. According to Brent McCusker, an associate chairman of geography at West Virginia University and a study co-author, farmers are already noticing a change in rainfall patterns. "A lot of people are talking about rainy seasons ending early or having an intense dry period in the middle of the rainy season. That really wreaks havoc on people's crops," he said. Chimphamba said Malawi needs more nongovernmental organization-led education programs to help farmers with climate-smart farming techniques. "Unless issues of inadequate knowledge and skills are addressed through direct empowerment of the communities themselves, no matter how much financial resources are pumped from outside into the agricultural system, low productivity will still be raising its ugly head even under a good rainy season in Malawi," he wrote.

The original article may still be available at http://www.eenews.net/cw/

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