The Future of Food Looks Bad for East Africa—but These Farmers Aren’t Giving Up

Posted by , posted on Monday August 31 2015(3 years ago)

By Sarah McColl (she has written for Yahoo Food, Bon Appetit, and other publications. She’s based in Brooklyn.)

Growing enough food to feed the world is going to be difficult in coming decades for numerous reasons, from rising populations to the increase of extreme weather events promised by climate change. Those stresses, however, will not be applied evenly throughout the world. While some places, for example, will experience more good days for growing food throughout the year, other areas are expected to face a far more challenging new normal.

“In the grim contest over who will suffer the most [from climate change], the people of sub-Saharan Africa may come out on top,” Greenpeace’s James Kinyangi wrote in a report this summer. According to the paper, which studied farmers in East Africa, crop production in the region will need to increase by 260 percent to meet the needs of a population expected to double by 2050.

But the ingenuity of Kenya’s farmers is promising. At the Nairobi National Museum, Greenpeace Africa and the Institute for Culture and Ecology recently presented an exhibit called The Era of Resilience: the Journey of a Kenyan Farmer. In video portraits and photos, the farmers shared the ways they’ve adapted to what each described as a climate that’s changed markedly. By planting legumes and trees that return nitrogen to the soil, collecting rainwater in lined water-harvesting pans, and diversifying their farms with a number of crops and animals, they’re able to ensure food and economic security despite increasingly erratic harvests. Many are leaders in community farming groups, where they share what they’ve learned.

“From the farming we are doing we have money to pay school fees for our children,” farmer Karen Achieng’ Onyango said. “It is what has sustained us up to this time.”

Read more on the farmers at takepart

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