Africa / Agriculture / Asia / Climate Change / Food Security / Latin America

‘Gloomy’ future for agriculture in a much warmer world–climate change researcher Gerald Nelson

Smallholder maize farmer in southern Mozambique

Farmer Celeste Sitoe with her maize harvest in Lhate Village, outside Chokwe, in Gaza Province, southern Mozambique (photo credit: ILRI/Mann).

The Associated Press today broke a story that researchers are predicting a ‘gloomy’ future for agriculture in the face of greater and faster warming of the world than expected.

‘. . . [O]n our current emissions path, climate change becomes the “threat multiplier” that could double grain prices by 2050 and leave millions more children malnourished, global food experts reported Wednesday.

‘Beyond 2050, when climate scientists project temperatures might rise to as much as 6.4 degrees C (11.5 degrees F) over 20th century levels, the planet grows “gloomy” for agriculture, said senior research fellow Gerald Nelson of the International Food Policy Research Institute. . . . Prices will be driven up by a combination of factors: a slowdown in productivity in some places caused by warming and shifting rain patterns, and an increase in demand because of population and income growth.

‘Change apparently already is under way. Returning from northern India, agricultural scientist Andrew Jarvis said wheat farmers there were finding warming was maturing their crops too quickly.

‘”The temperatures are high and they’re getting reduced yields,” Jarvis, of the Colombia-based International Center for Tropical Agriculture, told reporters last month.

‘For most farmers around the world, trying to adapt to these changes “will pose major challenges,” Wednesday’s IFPRI report said. . . .

‘”Unlike the 20th century, when real agricultural prices declined, the first half of the 21st century is likely to see increases in real agricultural prices,” the IFPRI report said. . . .

‘With climate change factored in, the increases in real prices by 2050 could range from 31 percent for rice in the most optimistic scenario, to 100 percent for corn in the most pessimistic. And IFPRI has estimated that such skyrocketing prices could boost the global population of undernourished children by 20 percent, by an additional 25 million children. . . .

‘. . . [B]eyond 2050, if temperatures rise sharply, “the world is a much more gloomy place for agriculture,” Nelson said.

‘Only deep reductions in greenhouse gas emissions and billions spent to help farmers adapt to a changing climate can head off serious food shortages, Nelson said. . . .’

Read the whole article at Associated Press: Global experts: Warming could double food prices, 2 December 2010.

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