Climate change and Cape Verde

Climate change is affecting many countries and communities, and Cape Verde is no exception. Approximately 25% of the country’s population rely on agriculture for their main income.

However, in 2018 a serious draught affected the country. Since then the amount of rainfall has reduced and become less predictable than was the case before. The result of this was a reduction in domestic food production. In terms of the country’s economy, the ensuing Covid pandemic just made things more difficult. Consequently, food security reached an all-time low in 2022. For a country like this, that imports so much of its food, other world events, such as the war in Ukraine, only make things even more difficult.

The effects of climate change are not limited to rainfall, or lack of it. There is greater soil erosion, a reduction in soil fertility and an increase in plant pests. Fall armyworm (Spodoptera frugiperda) arrived in 2017 and attacks the leaves of plants such as maize. Fruit flies attack mangos and then tomato worms attack tomato plants. These are some of the pests that those in agriculture are up against. One of the other challenges is farming on the island of Santo Antao, where topography makes terracing is necessary, as illustrated in this picture.

Cape Verde appealed for assistance with these challenges and China came to their help. China has been providing its own experience and knowledge of dealing with such difficulties. The Chinese have a group of experts covering different aspects, including pest control, soils and water management, fertilisation and livestock. These experts will now work with local famers for three years.

With so many countries struggling with the effects of climate change, shared experience and knowledge across borders is important. It is hoped that this partnership will enable this Small island Developing State (SIDS) achieve a more self-reliant future.