Africa / Agriculture / Asia / Caribbean / CCAFS / China / Climate Change / Food Security / ILRI / Latin America

Where survival is linked to fate of farm crops and animals, climate shifts can be disastrous – Polly Ericksen

CCAFS poverty and climate change hotspots presentation: ILRI's Polly Erickson presents

ILRI’s Polly Erickson presents the results of her study, Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics, produced for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), at a seminar at the World Agroforestry Centre (photo credit: ILRI/MacMillan).

The US News and World Report writes about a recent study delineating the geographical range of some agricultural crops—such as corn and beans—that may be greatly reduced if temperatures continue to rise. ‘While some farmers may be able to readjust what they grow,’ it says, ‘others may have to give up, producing a disaster.

‘Food prices have been rising, and climate change is likely to have a larger effect on food production in the future. These issues might be expected in southern Asia and Africa, but if temperatures keep rising, even places now reasonably secure such as China and Latin America could face a food crisis within two generations.

‘The study was published by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, a non-governmental research organization.

‘The researchers used current climate models to produce the maps which match “climate hotspots,” places where climate change is expected to be at its most extreme, and indicators of future food problems. One map shows “climate thresholds,” where rising temperatures would make growing certain crops untenable. Another shows densely agricultural areas that may be sensitive to temperature changes, and a third shows areas where producing food always has been problematical.

‘”When you put these maps together they reveal places around the world where the arrival of stressful growing conditions could be especially disastrous,” wrote the study’s lead author Polly Ericksen, a senior scientist at the CGIAR’s International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobi, Kenya. “These are areas highly exposed to climate shifts, where survival is strongly linked to the fate of regional crop and livestock yields, and where chronic food problems indicate that farmers are already struggling and they lack the capacity to adapt to new weather patterns.” . . .’

Read the whole article at US News and World Report: Rising temperatures threaten a food crisis, 3 June 2011.

Read the whole report: Mapping hotspots of climate change and food insecurity in the global tropics, by Polly Ericksen, Philip Thornton, An Notenbaert, L Cramer, Peter Jones and Mario Herrero 2011. CCAFS Report no. 5 (advance copy). CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). Copenhagen, Denmark. Also available online at:

Click here for the CCAFS online media room with more materials, including versions of the news release in English, Spanish, French and Chinese, and also versions of two maps in high resolution suitable for print media.

All the maps will be made available online later this year; for more information on the maps, please contact ILRI’s Polly Ericksen at p.ericksen [at] or CCAFS’ Vanessa Meadu at ccafs.comms [at]

Note: This study was led by scientists at the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) for the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS). CCAFS is a strategic partnership of the CGIAR and the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP). CCAFS brings together the world’s best researchers in agricultural science, development research, climate science and Earth System science, to identify and address the most important interactions, synergies and tradeoffs between climate change, agriculture and food security. The CGIAR’s Lead Centre for the program is the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) in Cali, Colombia. For more information, visit

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