Copyright (c) 2012 Morgan D
Food production, as well as pastures is affected by the distribution of rainfall. Therefore, although rainfall received in the region may be normal, the distribution may not be even, which results in poor production. In some cases, the rainfall comes late in the growing season for the different crops resulting in flooding and destruction of the mature harvest. In some cases, the absence of irrigation leads to poor harvests despite receiving adequate rainfall in the given regions. This is because of the time when the rains come, which may not be optimal for the crops grown.
Rainfall in different parts of South Sudan such as the Upper Nile has been declining steadily since 1970, with reductions of up to 20% for some parts of South Sudan. The regions of South Sudan where rain fed agriculture practiced have contracted in the past 20 years leading to low yields in agriculture. This effect has been most severe in the Upper Nile (Mphatso, 2011). Temperature in the region has also increased by about 1oC across South Sudan. This has led to the increase in hot areas in the region. The high temperature has resulted in increasing the size of the region that experience average temperatures above 300C.
These high temperature regions are also characterized by sparse vegetation and low rainfall levels. The patterns mapped out for the rise in temperature also correspond with the reduction in precipitation received in the regions. Rise in temperature results, in increased evaporation from the soil, therefore, reducing the moisture content of the soil. This, in turn, reduces agricultural productivity because of reduction in the water available for the crops. High temperature also increases the rate of transpiration by the plant, which causes wilting in the dry weather.
The effects of the climate change on evapotranspiration are more severe than the effects changes in rainfall on the agricultural sector in South Sudan. A positive effect of climate change for crop production is the rising concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. This results in improved photosynthesis, therefore, increasing the productivity of different crops.Most of the smallholder farmers in the region result to low cost methods of adaptation in order to mitigate the effects of climate change on the productivity of their farms. However, the failure to adapt in any way results in, dire effects for the sector. Farmers with financial capability have used effective methods of adaptation to the changing climate such as irrigation and mechanization in their farms. Other farmers adopt small-scale adaptation measures such as rainwater harvesting (Boko, et al., 2007).
According to Mohammad (1992), the effects of climate change on agriculture are also visible in the area under cultivation for different crops in the region.The comparison of land area under cultivation from 2008 to 2009 shows that Sorghum farming reduced at about 60%, and maize framing reduced at 59%, which left maize farming in the area at 36% in 2008. Only five percent of the households increased the area of land that was under maize cultivation. On average, only 9.14 % of the farmers increased the area under cultivation in 2009. 35 % of the farmers retained the same area as they had cultivated in 2008. However, the largest percentage of farmers (55.9 %) reduced the area that was under cultivation in 2009 compared to 2008. This indicates the deteriorating conditions for agriculture in the region. Reduction in the area under cultivation leads to reduction in output and income for the farmers (FAO & WFP, 2010).
The study shows the negative effects of climate change on the agricultural sector, which depends largely on weather conditions. Climate change has a net negative effect on agricultural productivity. This shows that efforts have to be made in order to mitigate the negative effects of climate change in order to prevent food shortage in south Sudan. Reliance on traditional methods of agriculture by most of the farmers results in low productivity, in the farms. In South Sudan, most agriculture is rain fed and small scale, which reduces the possibility of mechanization.
Efforts by the government to sensitize farmers on the importance of modern technology and irrigation have had marginal benefits. More effort is required by the government in order to improve food security in the region. The scale of agricultural projects has to change in order to ensure that the effects of reduced rainfall mitigated by reducing reliance on rainfall for agricultural production. This is because the relationship between agricultural productivity and amount of rainfall is high implying that there is over reliance on rainfall. This study also shows that climate change has a negative effect on animal rearing because fodder is also negatively affected by climate change.
Another observable feature of the sector in Sudan is that there is steady reduction in the area under the different crops in the region. Most of the households have been reducing the area under cultivation for the different crops each year. This results from failure of the crops in the preceding years, which affects the morale and prospects for the farmers. This also results from lack of seeds due to failure of the crops in the preceding years, which are used as seeds for the following years. The government can mitigate this reduction by providing the farmers with certified seeds to use in their farms.