Agriculture Production's Sensitivity to Change in Climate in South Africa


Agriculture Production's Sensitivity to Change in Climate in South Africa

ABSTRACT

South Africa has been approximately 2% hotter and at least 6% drier over the ten years 1997-2006 when compared to the ten years 1970-1979. The use of water has also increased dramatically over this same period. By 2000, 98.6% of that years’ surface water yield and 41% of the annual utilisable potential of groundwater was being used. Irrigation agriculture, taking 60% of the total, is by far the largest single consumer of water. Given these climatic and water use changes as a backdrop, we employed a panel data econometric model to estimate how sensitive the nation’s agriculture may be to changes in rainfall.

Net agricultural income in the provinces contributing 10% or more to total production of both field crops and horticulture is likely to be negatively affected by a decline in rainfall. It is dryland agriculture, however, that is the most susceptible: for the country as a whole, each 1% decline in rainfall is likely to lead to a 1,1% decline in the production of maize (summer grain) and a 0.5% decline in wheat (winter grain). These results are discussed with respect to both established and new - emerging - farmers, and the type of agriculture that should be favoured, or phased out in different parts of the country in view of current and projected trends in climate, increasing water use, and declining water availability.

Link to complete article: Agriculture Production's Sensitivity to Change in Climate in South Africa

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