Impacts of Climate Variability and Change on Rainfed Sorghum and Maize: Implications for Food Security Policy in Tanzania

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Concern about food security has increased because of a changing climate, which poses a great threat to food crop productivity. Climate change projections from the Coupled Model Inter-comparison Project phase 5 (CMIP5) and crop models were used to investigate the impacts of climate change on rain-fed cereal production. Calibrated and evaluated crop models simulated maize and sorghum yields over time periods and scenarios across central zone Tanzania with and without adaptation. Simulation outputs without adaptation showed predominant decrease and increase in maize and sorghum yields, respectively. The results showed that maize yields were predicted to decline between 1% and 25% across periods, representative concentration pathways (RCPs) and global circulation models (GCMs). However, sorghum yields were on average predicted to increase between 5% and 21%. Overall when adaptation is incorporated toward mid-century, yields are projected to increase for both crops. The yield projections variation between cereal crops highlights the importance of location and crop specific climate change impact assessments. Despite the uncertainties in predicting the impacts of climate change on rainfed crops, especially on cereals (maize and sorghum) which are important staple food crops in semi-arid Tanzania, the findings of this study enable policy makers to develop plans aimed at sustainable food security. In conclusion, the results demonstrate the presumption that sorghum productivity stands a better chance than maize under prospects of negative impacts from climate change in central zone Tanzania.



agronomic adaptation, cereals, climate change, policy, simulation modeling, uncertainty