Many farmers in Africa may have to change the crops they are growing by the end of this century because of climate change, but for most plants only small areas will be impacted.

Julian Ramirez-Villegas at the University of Leeds, UK, and his colleagues modelled the suitability of sub-Saharan Africa for growing 9 major crops under climate scenarios that would see relatively large increases, exceeding 2 °C, in global temperatures by 2100. For maize (corn) and banana, around 30% of the region will become unsuitable, and for beans, 60% of the land will be unavailable. But for the other six crops — including cassava and yam — the affected area is limited to small pockets that total less than 15%.

The authors suggest that some farmers will initially adapt to climate change through improvements to farming techniques, but will then need to transition to substitute crops or relocate.

Nature Clim. Change (2016)