Studies by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security highlight how climate change will impact crops that are critical to food security in the developing world. This program is trying to discover new adaptation strategies to help reduce these impacts. “Plant breeding will probably be the cornerstone” of climate change adaptation says Stephen Beebe, a scientist from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture. Plant breeders like Beebe are focused on protecting beans, which are rich in starch, fibre and various vitamins and minerals. Beans are essential to the food security of large areas of Africa and Latin America. Even modest temperature and rainfall changes predicted for major bean-growing regions could significantly reduce the area suited for this crop.
In Kenya, this is a major issue!
In different areas of Kenya, bean farmers are feeling climate change stress. In numerous places, villagers are noticing the sudden change in weather patterns. Farmers who grow beans, maize and different trees are also concerned about an increase in pests and unpredictable rainfall. With less rain, the beans do not grow well and harvest becomes very poor.
To cope with these changes, farmers have adopted a number of strategies. Such strategies are using hybrid seed to help them to have better yield and fast growing and fast maturing bean varieties to take advantage of the shorter growing season. Watch this interview of a Kenyan farmer.
These adaptation strategies are making a difference for the Kenyan farmers right now, but adapting to long term climatic changes will require them to adopt a new suite of actions, including even newer varieties. Bean specialists have already made significant progresses in developing drought-tolerant bean varieties, which have been released in Mexico and Rwanda. However, little research has been done on heat tolerance in beans.
Climate change is affecting everyone all over the world. We MUST make decisions NOW if we want to safe our planet!