Agriculture

Agriculture contributes significantly to South Africa’s economy and plays a vital role in sustaining livelihoods and ensuring food security. Agriculture is highly dependent on local climatic conditions and increased changes in rainfall and temperature, as a result of climate change, will pose numerous risks to an already sensitive sector.

Climate Change Impacts on Agriculture

Changes in rainfall and temperature are predicted to have particularly severe impacts on the production of key cereal crops, and on intensive livestock practices. Changing rainfall patterns and associated drought seasons are projected to impact on water availability which is critical for the sector. Changes in climate are also projected to alter the distribution of agricultural pests and diseases which can result in huge losses for farmers. All of these impacts will affect the food security and livelihoods of South Africans, especially for rural dwellers.

The South African Long Term Adaptation Scenarios (LTAS) report highlights the following potential climate change impacts on the agricultural sector:

  1. Changes in traditional crop growing areas as certain areas may become more or less suitable for specific crop production.
  2. Changes in areas suitable for commercial forestry plantations.
  3. Increased exposure to agricultural pests.
  4. Increased health risks and impacts to livestock due to decreases in rainfall which impact on herbage.
  5. Impacts on subsistence farming practices potentially impacting on food security.

Agriculture Maps

Vulnerability Assessment in the Agriculture Sector

The section below provides more detail on conducting a climate change vulnerability Assessment (VA) in the Agriculture Sector.

Step 1: Development of Indicators

More details on this step can be found here.

Step 2: Assess your Exposure to the Indicators

The second step of a vulnerability assessment is to determine whether a particular indicator is relevant. This is termed “Exposure”. Exposure is whether or not a particular impact will take place in your area. The table below lists various indicators and links to materials to determine whether you are potentially at risk (exposed) to the impact. This is generally a “Yes/No” question.

No
Indicator Title
Indicator Description
Exposure Question
Source of information
1Change in grain (maize, wheat & barley) productionAreas towards the west of RSA are likely to become less suitable for grain production.Do you grow or have potential to grow grains in your area?LTAS Agricultural Crops Maps
2Change in Sorghum productionSorghum yields are projected to increase in parts of western KZN, inland areas of the Eastern Cape and the eastern Free State, with some areas in the north registering losses compared with present climatic conditions.Do you grow or have potential to grow Sorghum in your area?LTAS Agricultural Crops Maps
3Change in Soya Bean ProductionAreas in the east of RSA lost to potential production, with an expansion of suitable areas inland towards the central/west or RSA.Do you grow or have potential to grow Soya Bean in your area?LTAS Agricultural Crops Maps
4Change in Sugarcane ProductionIncrease in <10% in many parts of the present cane growing areas, but by up to 30% in new growth areas further inland.Do you grow or have potential to grow Sugarcane in your area?LTAS Agricultural Crops Maps
5Change in viticulture (grapes) productionAreas suitable for viticulture could be substantially reduced or shift to higher altitudes and currently cooler, more southerly locations.Do you grow or have potential to grow grapes in your area?Wines of South Africa Maps
6Change in fruit productionProjected reduction of the area suitable for fruit production (e.g. 28% reduction in apple and pears) by as early as 2020.Do you grow or have potential to grow fruit in your area?HortGro Key Deciduous Fruit Statistics 2014
7Change in other crop production areas (e.g. vegetables, nuts, etc.)Crop production may vary depending on a warmer wetter or warmer drier climate.Do you grow or have potential to grow other crops in your area?LTAS Agricultural Crops Maps
8Increased areas for commercial plantationsThe total area suitable for commercial forestry plantations would increase along the eastern seaboard and adjacent areas.Do you have or have potential for commercial forestry plantations in your area?LTAS Major Forestry Trees Maps
9Increased exposure to pests such as eldana, chilo and codling mothExposure to eldana would increase in areas suitable for sugarcane by ~10% to > 30%. The area subject to damage by chilo would increase substantially (sugarcane). The area subject to damage by codling moth would increase substantially (apples, pears, walnuts and quince).Are you or will you be exposed to agricultural pests in your area?LTAS Agriculture Pest Maps
10Increased risks to livestockProjected decreases in rainfall and hence herbage yields would result in negative health impacts for livestock.Do you or will you have livestock in your area?LTAS Phase 1 - Technical Report - No 3 of 6 - Agriculture and Forestry
11Reduced food securityReduced food security, particularly of subsistence farmers, and resultant increase in malnutrition.Do you or will you have food insecurity in your area?LTAS Phase 2 - Technical Report 5 of 7 Food Security

Record your answers here and make note of any of the indicators above that you scored “Yes” to.

Step 3: Assess your Sensitivity to the Indicators

The third step of the vulnerability assessment asks the question, “if you are exposed, how important is the potential impact?” This is termed “sensitivity” and is generally assessed by a scale (e.g 1 to 5 or High, Medium, Low). For the purpose of the LGCCS Vulnerability Assessment Toolkit the Sensitivity Questions have been graded as High, Medium, Low.

The table below lists the same indicators as above but provides a column called “Sensitivity Considerations” to help assess how sensitive you are to particular impacts.

No
Indicator Title
Indicator Description
Sensitivity Question
Sensitivity Consideration
Source of information
1Change in grain (maize, wheat & barley) productionAreas towards the west of RSA are likely to become less suitable for grain production.If it takes place how significant will it be (internal)?How important is grain to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority Crop = High;
Medium Priority Crop = Medium;
Low/No Priority Crop = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
2Change in Sorghum productionSorghum yields are projected to increase in parts of western KZN, inland areas of the Eastern Cape and the eastern Free State, with some areas in the north registering losses compared with present climatic conditions.If it takes place how significant will it be (internal)?How important is sorghum to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority Crop = High;
Medium Priority Crop = Medium;
Low/No Priority Crop = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
3Change in Soya Bean ProductionAreas in the east of RSA lost to potential production, with an expansion of suitable areas inland towards the central/west or RSA.If it takes place how significant will it be (internal)?How important is soya bean to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority Crop = High;
Medium Priority Crop = Medium;
Low/No Priority Crop = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
4Change in Sugarcane ProductionIncrease in <10% in many parts of the present cane growing areas, but by up to 30% in new growth areas further inland.If it takes place how significant will it be (internal)?How important is sugarcane to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority Crop = High;
Medium Priority Crop = Medium;
Low/No Priority Crop = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
5Change in viticulture (grapes) productionAreas suitable for viticulture could be substantially reduced or shift to higher altitudes and currently cooler, more southerly locations.If it takes place how significant will it be (internal)?How important is viticulture (grapes) to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority Crop = High;
Medium Priority Crop = Medium;
Low /No Priority Crop = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
6Change in fruit productionProjected reduction of the area suitable for fruit production (e.g. 28% reduction in apple and pears) by as early as 2020.If it takes place how significant will it be (internal)?How important is fruit to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority Crop = High;
Medium Priority Crop = Medium;
Low/No Priority Crop = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
7Change in other crop production areas (e.g. vegetables, nuts, etc.)Crop production may vary depending on a warmer wetter or warmer drier climate.If it takes place how significant will it be (internal)?How important are other crops to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority Crop = High;
Medium Priority Crop = Medium;
Low/No Priority Crop = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
8Increased areas for commercial plantationsThe total area suitable for commercial forestry plantations would increase along the eastern seaboard and adjacent areas.If it takes place how significant will it be (internal)?Is there capacity for commercial plantation expansion (water use licence, land availability, demand for plantation products)?
High Potential for Expansion = High;
Medium Potential for Expansion = Medium;
Low/No Potential for Expansion = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
9Increased exposure to pests such as eldana, chilo and codling mothExposure to eldana would increase in areas suitable for sugarcane by ~10% to > 30%. The area subject to damage by chilo would increase substantially (sugarcane). The area subject to damage by codling moth would increase substantially (apples, pears, walnuts and quince).If it takes place how bad will it be (internal)?How important are crops that are vulnerable to pests to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority Crop = High;
Medium Priority Crop = Medium;
Low/No Priority Crop = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
10Increased risks to livestockProjected decreases in rainfall and hence herbage yields would result in negative health impacts for livestock.If it takes place how bad will it be (internal)?How important is livestock farming to the local economy and livelihoods?
High Priority = High;
Medium Priority = Medium;
Low/No Priority = Low
To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
11Reduced food securityReduced food security, particularly of subsistence farmers, and resultant increase in malnutrition.If it takes place how bad will it be (internal)?Percentage households involved in agricultural activities
More than 20% = High;
Between 20% & 10% = Medium;
Less than 10% = Low
LGCCSP Indicator List

Record your answers here and make a note of any of the indicators above that you scored “Medium or High” to.

Step 4: Assess your Adaptive Capacity to the Indicators

The forth step in the vulnerability assessment asks the question: “If there are going to be significant impacts due to climate change, do you have the systems (policy, resources, social capital) to respond to the change?”. The IPCC defines Adaptive Capacity as the “ability of a system to adjust to climate change to moderate potential damages, to take advantage of opportunities, or to cope with the consequences”. For the purpose of the LGCCS Vulnerability Assessment Toolkit the Adaptive Capacity Questions have been graded as High, Medium, Low.

The table below lists the same indicators as above but provides a column called “Adaptive Capacity Question” which is “Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity (policy, institutional, social and finance) to respond to the change?”.

No
Indicator Title
Indicator Description
Adaptive Capacity Question
Source of information
1Change in grain (maize, wheat & barley) productionAreas towards the west of RSA are likely to become less suitable for grain production.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Change in grain (maize, wheat & barley) production?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
2Change in Sorghum productionSorghum yields are projected to increase in parts of western KZN, inland areas of the Eastern Cape and the eastern Free State, with some areas in the north registering losses compared with present climatic conditions.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Change in Sorghum production?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
3Change in Soya Bean ProductionAreas in the east of RSA lost to potential production, with an expansion of suitable areas inland towards the central/west or RSA.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Change in Soya Bean Production?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
4Change in Sugarcane ProductionIncrease in <10% in many parts of the present cane growing areas, but by up to 30% in new growth areas further inland.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Change in Sugarcane Production?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
5Change in viticulture (grapes) productionAreas suitable for viticulture could be substantially reduced or shift to higher altitudes and currently cooler, more southerly locations.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Change in viticulture (grapes) production?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
6Change in fruit productionProjected reduction of the area suitable for fruit production (e.g. 28% reduction in apple and pears) by as early as 2020.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Change in fruit production?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
7Change in other crop production areas (e.g. vegetables, nuts, etc.)Crop production may vary depending on a warmer wetter or warmer drier climate.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Change in other crop production areas (e.g. vegetables, nuts, etc.)?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
8Increased areas for commercial plantationsThe total area suitable for commercial forestry plantations would increase along the eastern seaboard and adjacent areas.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Increased areas for commercial plantations?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
9Increased exposure to pests such as eldana, chilo and codling mothExposure to eldana would increase in areas suitable for sugarcane by ~10% to > 30%. The area subject to damage by chilo would increase substantially (sugarcane). The area subject to damage by codling moth would increase substantially (apples, pears, walnuts and quince).Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Increased exposure to pests such as eldana, chilo and codling moth?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
10Increased risks to livestockProjected decreases in rainfall and hence herbage yields would result in negative health impacts for livestock.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Increased risks to livestock?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders
11Reduced food securityReduced food security, particularly of subsistence farmers, and resultant increase in malnutrition.Do you have high, medium or low adaptive capacity to respond to Reduced food security?To be determined through consultation with key stakeholders

Record your answers here and make a note of any of the indicators above that you scored “Low or Medium” to.

Key Responses to Climate Change in the Agricultural Sector

Due to its importance to the economy and livelihoods, the agricultural sector should be prioritised in national climate change adaptation efforts, and policies and responses cascaded down to the municipal level.

Role of National Departments

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) is a key role-player in ensuring that climate change vulnerabilities are identified in the agricultural sector and that guidance and resources are provided in assisting commercial and subsistence farmers to prepare for and respond to these impacts.

In 2014, DAFF prepared a Climate Change Sector Plan aimed at addressing identified sector vulnerabilities to climate change, and is in the process of developing a climate change adaptation and mitigation plan for agriculture. An important role of this department is to ensure that these plans are cascaded down to the local level. These plans should then be interrogated at the local level and context appropriate responses in the agricultural sector developed. Possible role players and agricultural responses at the local level are highlighted below:

 

Role of Councillors

  • Spearhead promotion of sustainable water and land resources management efforts within the municipality, with a strong focus on community awareness raising.
  • Ensure agriculture related climate change risks are considered during the IDP review and associated project planning processes.
  • Support municipal budget allocation of climate change related interventions.

Role of Municipal Administration

  • Review existing policies and include enabling flexible sector plans and frameworks.
  • Build strong institutional oversight to ensure that agriculture-related institutions build adaptive management capacity.
  • Integrated, simplified and unambiguous policy and effective governance systems aimed minimising risks.
  • Develop climate advisory services and early warning systems for extreme weather events.
  • Promote Smart Agriculture efforts including sustainable natural resource management through community based programmes.
  • Establish programmes focusing on maintenance and restoration of ecosystems.
  • Promote sustainable farming systems including integrated crop and livestock management.
  • Promote and support Climate resilient forestry options and diversification of community livelihood skills.
  • Raise awareness and promote knowledge and communication on climate change and adaptation through various programmes aimed at building sustainable and resilient communities.

Role of Individuals

  • Work together with the municipality in finding solutions for identified risks in the municipality.
  • Play an active role in sustainable water resource use and management practice such as maintenance and climate-resilient restoration of ecosystem services.
  • Consider sustainable farming systems including integrated crop and livestock management.
  • Get involved in community-based programmes assisting in building resilience.
  • Consider establishing household rain water harvesting systems.
  • Consider the use of greywater or harvested rain water to support small scale community or household gardening water uses.

References Material

Use the following reference material to help assess your vulnerability to the criteria listed above:

 

  1. Agriculture Crop Maps
  2. Agriculture Pest Maps
  3. Wines of South Africa Maps
  4. HortGro Key Deciduous Fruit Statistics 2014
  5. LTAS Phase 1 – Technical Report – No 3 of 6 – Agriculture and Forestry
  6. AGIS Food Security Atlas