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Agriculture in West Africa in the Twenty-first Century: climate change and impacts scenarios, and potential for adaptation

Benjamin Sultan 1 Marco Gaetani 2 
1 PARVATI - Processus de la variabilité climatique tropicale et impacts
LOCEAN - Laboratoire d'Océanographie et du Climat : Expérimentations et Approches Numériques
LATMOS - Laboratoire Atmosphères, Milieux, Observations Spatiales
Abstract : West Africa is known to be particularly vulnerable to climate change due to high climate variability, high reliance on rain-fed agriculture and limited economic and institutional capacity to respond to climate variability and change. In this context, better knowledge of how climate will change in West Africa and how such changes will impact crop productivity is crucial to inform policies that may counteract the adverse effects. This review paper provides a comprehensive overview of climate change impacts on agriculture in West Africa based on the recent scientific literature. West Africa is nowadays experiencing a rapid climate change, characterized by a widespread warming, a recovery of the monsoonal precipitation, and an increase in the occurrence of climate extremes. The observed climate tendencies are also projected to continue in the 21st century under moderate and high emission scenarios, although large uncertainties still affect simulations of the future West African climate, especially regarding the summer precipitation. However, despite diverging future projections of the monsoonal rainfall, which is essential for rain-fed agriculture, a robust evidence of yield loss in West Africa emerges. This yield loss is mainly driven by increased mean temperature while potential wetter or drier conditions as well as elevated CO2 concentrations can modulate this effect. Potential for adaptation is illustrated for major crops in West Africa through a selection of studies based on process-based crop models to adjust cropping systems (change in varieties, sowing dates and density, irrigation, fertilizer management) to future climate. Results of the cited studies are crop and region specific and no clear conclusions can be made regarding the most effective adaptation options difficult. Further efforts are needed to improve modelling of the monsoon system and to better quantify the uncertainty in its changes under a warmer climate, the response of the crops to such changes and in the potential for adaptation.
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Benjamin Sultan, Marco Gaetani. Agriculture in West Africa in the Twenty-first Century: climate change and impacts scenarios, and potential for adaptation. Frontiers in Plant Science, Frontiers, 2016, 7, pp.1262. ⟨10.3389/fpls.2016.01262⟩. ⟨insu-01355123⟩



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