In sub-Saharan Africa, 90% of agricultural production is rainfed and only 10% of the arable land is irrigated. At the same time, the continent is susceptible to inter-annual rainfall variability, ttese statistics strengthen the argument that weather and climate are one of the biggest production risk and uncertainty factors impacting on agriculture systems' performance, tte Southern African region faces well-documented challenges in maintaining and improving food security in the face of multiple stresses. Climate stress in particular has compromised the ability of the region's agricultural sector to sustain production. Such a situation is particularly concerning in the light of the projected climate stress under future climate change due to, for example, the increasing frequency of extreme precipitation events (IPCC 2001). tte paper discusses the use of integrated sustainable agriculture in Africa that takes into account preparedness, monitoring, assessments, mitigation and adaptation that address issues of extreme climatic events including severe droughts, floods and cyclonic systems, tte paper also discusses efforts in the use of improved climate knowledge and technology, including monitoring and response mechanisms to current weather to reduce the uncertainties in agrometeorological risks.
In Africa, the challenges that farmers face are beyond agricultural related activities and go further to include marketing, access to loans, HIV/AIDS and lack of inputs exacerbated by poverty. Inadequate policies also subject farmers to a life of perpetual poverty (ECA 2006). Literature is replete with information indicating the fact that in Africa, extreme climatic events such as droughts, floods and cyclones have been known to strongly impede sustainable agricultural production and development. Even with this kind of information available, appropriate policies are hard to come by that try and put in place measures that will mitigate these extreme climatic events.
In Africa, decision making in agricultural production is a complex process which requires a lot of information in order to assist informed decisions, tte paper tries to identify and assess farmers' coping strategies with risks in southern Africa, particularly extreme climatic events such as droughts, floods and cyclones, tte paper also discusses the inadequate attention to agroclimatic characteristics of a location and lack of timely information on weather and climate risks and uncertainties, tte also discusses major challenges of access to technological advances in Africa as well as preparedness and response strategies and training of intermediaries be tween National Meteorological and Hydrological Services (NMHSs) and farmers etc. Finally the paper focuses on the opportunities for farmers in Africa to mitigate risks and uncertainties using structural measures such as irrigation and water harvesting and non-structural measures such as seasonal climate forecasts as well as medium-range weather forecasts for strategic and tactical management of agriculture. tte use of crop insurance strategies and schemes to reduce the vulnerability of the farming communities to agrometeorological risks is also addressed.
Sub-Saharan African economies are especially susceptible to climate variations due to their predominately agrarian structure. In Ethiopia, agriculture accounts for about 40% of GDP, 80% of export earnings and 85% of employment in diverse traditional subsistence systems for production mainly of cereals, oilseeds and livestock (Hertz 1996). Population and land tenure pressures have led to reduced productivity, increasing the vulnerability of the predominantly rain-fed agricultural systems to rainfall variations. Despite a trend towards urbanization, the majority of poverty remains in the rural areas, where households have limited assets to withstand climatic, disease or income shocks, tte impact that climate variability can have on such agrarian economies is well reflected in the case of Ethiopia, where economic growth and food imports closely track variations in rainfall (Figure 3.1). (Grey and Saddoff2005)
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