Kenya Scientist Gets Top Global Job

A Kenyan scientist has been named to a new global commission to address the threat climate change poses to food security.

Prof Judi Wakhungu is among the 13 experts whose recommendations in the next 10 months will be directed to the United Nations for possible action.

The scientists will seek to have countries agree on actions that will help the world adapt to climate change and achieve food security. Prof Wakhungu is the head of the African Centre for Technology Studies, an international science think tank based in Nairobi.

Experts say the frequent weather changes are expected to adversely affect crop production especially in developing countries. “Models suggest average yield drops of 19% for maize and 47% for beans, and much more frequent crop failures,” says a statement from the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), who set up the commission. CGIAR is the world’s largest agriculture research consortium.

The new body is called Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Change. It is headed by United Kingdom’s Chief Scientific adviser Prof. Sir John Beddington and includes senior scientists from Australia, Brazil, Bangladesh, China, Ethiopia, France, India, Mexico, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States and Vietnam.

Scientists say that a wave of weather extremes will impede the growth in food production required to avert hunger and political instability as the global population increases to nine billion people by 2050.

In Kenya, an ongoing drought might get worse since the Met department has reported rains across the country will be poor this season. “Supporting these concerns has been the weather-induced crop losses that contributed to current spike in food prices as well as the 2008 increases,” said the statement.

Scientists say there is evidence for sustainable agriculture approaches that can increase production of food and help decrease poverty and benefit the environment, but agreement is needed on how best to put these approaches into action.