Climate and energy
Working paper

Physio-economic impacts of climate change on maize production in South Africa

Tatenda Lysias Magodora
October 2020

The agricultural sector has remained under threat from climate change despite significant efforts to combat this problem. There is evidence of existing climate change impacts on maize production in South Africa. No meta-analysis was done to compile the impacts of climate change on maize production for economic analysis in the South African context. This study therefore investigates the impacts of global warming on maize production in South Africa using a meta-analysis (for physical impacts) and the Ricardian analysis (for economic impacts). The meta-analysis makes use of studies that investigated and reported percentage changes in maize yield owing to climate change in South Africa. The average estimated percentage change in maize yield was calculated from 34 studies, using the bootstrapping sampling technique. Results from the meta-analysis suggest that maize yield will drop by more than 15 per cent, owing to temperature increase of about 20°C to be realized between 2081 and 2100. The Ricardian analysis makes use of time series data for the period from 1987 to the end of 2018. The results from the Ricardian analysis also show that climate change is a significant threat to the South African maize industry, as it is estimated to lose an average of 38 per cent of revenue, owing to plus 20°C of warming. Given these outcomes, the study suggests the adoption of heat resistant maize varieties and sustainable farming activities such as minimum tillage, balanced fertilization, and biochar amendments at a much faster rate, in order to ensure a sustainable increase in maize production, while at the same time reducing the human ecological footprint on climate change.