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February / March 2023

Climate change science report for the Western Cape

SA Fruit Journal: February / March 2023

Planning for an agricultural future in a changing climate must be based on the best available data and scientific analysis. By Prof Stephanie Midgley

The Western Cape Climate Change Response Framework and Implementation Plan for the Agricultural Sector (SmartAgri plan, 2016) made use of a climate change science study conducted in the years 2014/15. This study was published as a chapter in the Status Quo Review of Climate Change and the Agriculture Sector of the Western Cape Province (2016).

The science and understanding of climate change have made rapid progress since 2015. In the intervening years, the global climate models have been further developed and improved, methods employed to downscale the global models to local spatial scale are more advanced, future socio-economic scenarios used for the modelling have been updated, and longer climate databases are available.

The SmartAgri plan has been implemented since 2016, initially focusing on the six priority projects and broad awareness raising across the sector. In 2019/20 the Western Cape Department of Agriculture commissioned an independent review of the plan itself, and progress on its implementation. The review made seven high-level recommendations, the first of which was to "Undertake a review and update of the climatic information and any required refinements to response strategies that underpin the SmartAgri Plan – particularly at the downscaled level".
The updated analysis of historical observed and future projected climate over the Western Cape was conducted by climate scientists at the Climate System Analysis Group, University of Cape Town, and published in 2022 (Jack et al., 2022). The study made use of the 23 SmartAgri zones that capture the climatic gradients, complex topography, oceanic influences, soils and farming systems across
the province.

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