Climate change is predicted to have significant impacts on agricultural productivity at a global level. The effects of climate change will primarily influence agriculture through alterations in plant growth, water availability, nutrient availability, increased temperature and elevated CO2 levels. The biophysical effects of climate change on agriculture induce changes in production and prices, altering crop mix, input use, production, food demand, food consumption, and trade.
Climate change will have the greatest impact on agriculture in developing countries primarily because many farms in the low latitudes already endure climates that are already hot. Ireland however, is not climate change proof and the effects of extreme weather have already started to impact agriculture in developed countries.
In Malawi, conservation agriculture gives farmers an opportunity to deal with the changing climate and apply new practices. Conservation agriculture is a response to sustainable land management, environmental protection and climate change adaptation and mitigation. It is guided by three principles; minimal soil disturbance, permanent soil cover and crop rotations.
Livestock farmers in Malawi are encouraged by Concern advisors and extension workers to de-stock and re-stock according to the immediate risk of drought or floods. This provides an opportunity for farmers to reduce the risk of losing their livestock and livelihoods through a simple mechanism. Often times farmers end up selling their livestock for significantly less than their value. This is far from ideal as farmers are often offered lower prices in desperate times. Both in Ireland and Malawi, farmers need to be supported by policy to ensure that they are given a fair price for their livestock during weather and fodder crises.