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Agricultural adaptations will cut costs of climate change impacts

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The Ongoing climate change impacts can result in significant economic costs for a country’s agricultural sector, evident in the drought South Africa has been subjected to over the last two years; however, enormous benefits can be drawn from possible adaptation options, if implemented correctly.

At a presentation on the cost of climate change in agricultural industries, University of New England in Australia Professor Garry Griffith noted that there was a global need for additional adaptation investments in the industry, adding that, while existing policy settings may be reasonable, “everyone in the value chain losses from climate change if nothing more is done – mainly farmers and final consumers”, and the wider introduction of drought-resistant cultivars was a further desirable response.

Agricultural Research Council (ARC) agrometeorologist Dr Sue Walker also argued that, while South Africa boasted a research that was aligned with the improvement of this nature in the agriculture sector, it was often not “taken through to the economic side, so that would be an interesting exercise for us”.

She noted that other mitigations, such as water conservation and rainwater harvesting also needed to be looked at in terms of economic impact. “Changes from government and policy need now to be workshopped in South Africa.”

Griffith further added that different institutions in South Africa, including the National Agricultural Marketing Council, the ARC, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and the Department of Environmental Affairs, could work closer together on research initiatives to eliminate unnecessary work and to find cost-effective solutions to climate change impacts.

Walker said research bodies needed to focus on coming up with research outputs, using the country’s available research on soil and weather and climate information, that could be implemented.

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