Adapting to climate change in mixed farming systems

There is relatively little information on how mixed crop-livestock systems may be affected by changes in climate and climate variability, says a new paper published by CGIAR scientists.

According to a perspective article published in the  journal Nature Climate Change in August 2015, mixed crop-livestock systems are not only the backbone of African agriculture, but they also play an indisputable role to national development, farmers’ livelihoods and the globe’s food demand. However, there has been very little research into how mixed crop-livestock systems may be affected by climate change or how the system’s climate impacts can be mitigated.

The article  „Adapting to climate change in the mixed crop and livestock farming systems in sub-Saharan Africa‘‘ notes that much more is known about the impacts of climate change on the crop enterprises in the mixed systems than on the livestock enterprises.

The interactions between crops and livestock can be managed to contribute to environmentally sustainable intensification, diversification and risk management. But here is relatively little information on how these interactions may be affected by changes in climate and climate variability. This is a serious gap, the authors note, because these interactions may offer some buffering capacity to help smallholders adapt to climate change. Mixed crop-livestock systems can help farmers become more resilient to changes in the climate because intermingling crops with livestock production often leads to a more efficient use of natural resources. Moreover, livestock can provide a buffer against losses in a particular season.

Link to report:Nature Climate Change Journal

(Nature Climate Change/Ob)