There has been much talk of late surrounding the forecasts of a strong El Niño weather event in the 2023/2024 summer season and its possible ramifications for global agricultural systems over the coming months. El Niño is essentially a climatic phenomenon characterised by anomalous warming of the ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. It is part of the larger El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, including its ‘cool phase’ known as La Niña. El Niño and La Niña have distinct effects on global weather patterns, thus understanding the nature of El Niño, its differences from La Niña, and its specific consequences on South Africa’s (SA) agriculture sector is crucial for managing the risks associated with this particular weather phenomenon.
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