Journal Article Addressing future food demand in The Gambia: Can increased crop productivity and climate change adaptation close the supply–demand gap?



With rising demand for food and the threats posed by climate change, The Gambia faces significant challenges in ensuring sufficient and nutritious food for its population. To address these challenges, there is a need to increase domestic food production while limiting deforestation and land degradation. In this study, we modified the FABLE Calculator, a food and land-use system model, to focus on The Gambia to simulate scenarios for future food demand and increasing domestic food production. We considered the impacts of climate change on crops, the adoption of climate change adaptation techniques, as well as the potential of enhanced fertiliser use and irrigation to boost crop productivity, and assessed whether these measures would be sufficient to meet the projected increase in food demand. Our results indicate that domestic food production on existing cropland will not be sufficient to meet national food demand by 2050, leading to a significant supply–demand gap. However, investments in fertiliser availability and the development of sustainable irrigation infrastructure, coupled with climate change adaptation strategies like the adoption of climate-resilient crop varieties and optimised planting dates, could halve this gap. Addressing the remaining gap will require additional strategies, such as increasing imports, expanding cropland, or prioritising the production of domestic food crops over export crops. Given the critical role imports play in The Gambia’s food supply, it is essential to ensure a robust flow of food imports by diversifying partners and addressing regional trade barriers. Our study highlights the urgent need for sustained investment and policy support to enhance domestic food production and food imports to secure sufficient and healthy food supplies amidst growing demand and climate change challenges.