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South Africa is in the throes of the worst drought in 30 years, according to a recent BBC article . Driven by the on-going El Niño cycle , below average rainfall and above average temperatures have limited crop development and water availability throughout the region.
As drought continues throughout southern Africa, the latest FEWS.net alert estimates that 2.5 million people are currently in Crisis food insecurity levels and in need of urgent humanitarian aid across Malawi, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Madagascar, and Lesotho. The organization is also anticipating that the region’s food-insecure population in 2016-2017 will be at least two times higher than current levels.
Africa’s fertilizer markets face significant constraints on both the supply and the demand side, including a lack of infrastructure, high costs to both produce and use, and low public-private investment. However, the challenges of climate change and population growth are now encouraging many governments to tackle much-needed market reforms.
These were some of the takeaway messages from last week’s virtual dialogue on fertilizer use in Africa, held on December 10.
The dialogue addressed four questions:
Farmers and pastoralists throughout Africa could soon be confronting a dual threat, thanks to this year’s potentially record-breaking El Niño phenomenon. The weather system has the potential to cause both severe drought and significant flooding throughout the continent, leading to reduced or damaged crops, income losses, and increased food insecurity for many of the region’s poorest populations.
The following post by IFPRI senior researcher Alejandro Nin Pratt was originally published on ASTI News and Notes .