School of Agricultural, Earth and Environmental Sciences

Cum Laude Agricultural Economics Research Examines Impact of Climate Change on Maize

Investigating the effects of climate change on maize production in South Africa earned Mr Tatenda Magodora a cum laude MScAgric degree in Agricultural Economics.

Magodora said growing up in the rural Gutu district in Zimbabwe, he became interested in conducting research on this topic as in his own hometown there was not extensive knowledge about the effects of climate change and about how certain agricultural activities, such as the application of synthetic fertilisers, contributed to the change.

Magodora completed his BSc and BSc Honours in Economics degrees at the University of Zimbabwe, followed by a BSc Honours in Agricultural Economics at the University of Fort Hare (UFH). Acquiring knowledge about climate change and agriculture during his undergraduate BSc degree in Economics, he developed an interest in exploring the scientific evidence of the impact of agriculture on the acceleration of climate change.

‘The effects are really devastating, and I knew that doing this work was the only way I would be able to communicate with farmers who do not have this knowledge,’ said Magodora.

By conducting a causality analysis, Magodora delved into the physio-economic impacts of climate change on maize production, assessing the linkages between climate change and maize production in the country. To do this, he conducted his analysis using Meta-analysis and the Ricardian model, and applied Granger analysis and variance decomposition.

Based on his research results, Magodora says maize revenues are expected to fall by around 38% in the next 40 to 60 years owing to the effects of climate change, so there should be increased focus on developing mitigation strategies. In the study period of 1980 to 2016, Magodora noted that rainfall had remained constant without affecting maize production, but pointed out that forecasts indicate there would be a significant impact of rainfall fluctuations on maize production.

Magodora’s results led to recommendations that maize farmers adopt sustainable farming practices such as minimum tillage, use of organic fertilisers, increased planting of drought-resistant maize varieties, and balanced fertilisation and biochar amendments at a faster rate in order to increase maize yields sustainably, while reducing the human ecological footprint on climate change. He added that the agricultural sector should be recognised as one of the sectors to be targeted by carbon emission reduction systems.

Magodora’s parents died when he was young so he was brought up by his grandparents, Mrs Angela Magodora and the now late Mr Lysias Magodora, who he said gave him all the support they could. He thanked his uncle, Mr Jeremiah Magodora, and aunt, Mrs Dorothy Chiweshe, for their financial support during his first degree, and his cousin Mr William Maguraushe for assisting him in coming to South Africa to study at Fort Hare, where he was exposed to scholarship opportunities and accessed funding from the National Research Foundation.

Magodora thanked his supervisor Professor Lloyd Baiyengunhi and fellow postgraduate students in agriculture for their support, and also his former supervisor at UFH, Professor Abbyssinia Mushunje, and his friend Ms Kudzanai Marembo, for their encouragement.

Magodora plans to do a PhD, aiming for a career as a researcher.

Words: Christine Cuénod

Photograph: Supplied