The economic impact of climate change on commercial agriculture in Namibia

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Namibia is one of the world's most vulnerable countries to climate change, due to its extreme aridity and dependence on primary industry, combined with a limited adaptive capacity. Approximately 70% of Namibia's 2.1 million people live in rural areas and are directly reliant on subsistence agriculture for their livelihoods. Namibia's climate is predicted to become hotter and drier in the future, with more variability in rainfall. Much of the land that is currently being used for agriculture is barely able to support the people who depend on it, and a reduction in rainfall is likely to make these areas less suitable for agriculture. The loss of agricultural productivity as a result of climate change could have severe economic impacts on farmers and on the Namibian economy. In this study, a survey of commercial farms in Namibia was conducted, and a multiple regression model was used to identify the main factors that determine farm revenue. The model was applied to predictions of future rainfall in order to estimate revenues for the years 2050 and 2080. Revenue per hectare was found to be lower for livestock production than for trophy hunting. Substantial losses in farm incomes are predicted to result from climate change, with annual revenue per hectare projected to decrease by up to 42% of its current value by 2050, and up to 59% by 2080. Livestock production is identified as particularly vulnerable due to its direct reliance on rainfall. Tourism is identified as being less vulnerable, as it generates higher revenues, and being a service industry, is likely to be less constrained by rainfall and less dependent on primary production. Diversifying farming activities to include wildlife production is recommended, especially in areas that are currently marginal for livestock production. In the most vulnerable regions, a conversion to using wildlife production systems could be a key adaptation that allows farmers to avoid complete loss of production under climate change.

University of York
MSc Thesis
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