Sorghum as a household food and livelihood security crop under climate change in South Africa: A review
Keywords:climate smart crops, climate variability, smallholder resilience, underutilised crops
Extreme events, declining rainfall and increasing temperatures under climate change threaten smallholder households’ food and livelihoods security. The potential of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor [L.] Moench) to contribute to food security and livelihoods of smallholders in South Africa has not been realised, despite its resilience to heat and drought, due to its marginalisation in research, breeding, the scale of production, and policy support. Consequently, to reduce vulnerability and boost sorghum’s position as a key climate change adaptation crop, in this review we examined some biophysical, socio-economic, socio-cultural and institutional barriers that constrain its production and performance on smallholder farms in South Africa. We further suggest pertinent issues to be addressed to improve production and productivity on smallholder farms. Increasing awareness, policy development and support, and capacitation of extension services, as well as improving market access, agronomic and cultural practices, and availability of more locally adapted sorghum varieties are requisite factors in addressing the prevailing constraints limiting sorghum production. Furthermore, tailored and site-specific studies at farm and landscape level are imperative for informed management and decision support. Thus, an integrated and multidisciplinary approach is key in fostering significant improvement in sorghum production and performance in smallholder systems in South Africa to reduce climate change vulnerability.
- Sorghum has the potential to bolster food and livelihoods of smallholder farmers in South Africa.
- Socio-economic, socio-cultural and biophysical challenges limit sorghum production and performance in South Africa.
- An integrated and multidisciplinary approach is required to optimise the opportunities to improve sorghum production and performance in South Africa.
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