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Worldwatch Institute project highlights CGIAR report on farm regions on collision course with climate change

Mali Women Collect Firewood on Dry Riverbed

Mali women collect firewood for cooking on the dry bed of the Niger River (photo on Flickr by United Nations).

The Worldwatch Institute’s ‘Nourishing the Planet’ project this week highlights a report illustrating food-insecure regions where climate change is likely to exacerbate hunger and malnutrition. The report was published in 2011 by the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security Climate Change (CCAFS).

‘A recent report by The Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), offers new insight into the threat that climate change poses to the livelihood of millions of farmers worldwide. The report, Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics, maps areas at risk of crossing “climate thresholds—temperatures too hot for maize or beans,” by 2050. These threshold models were compared against food insecure countries, defined as places where over 40 percent of children under the age of five experienced stunted growth as a result of malnutrition.

Cover of CCAFS-ILRI 2011 report 'Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics'


When these two factors overlap, the model “reveals places around the world where the arrival of stressful growing conditions could be especially disastrous,” says Polly Ericksen, a senior scientist at the CGIAR’s International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI).

CGIAR researcher Patti Kristjanson says that the report signals that farmers will have to develop new ways to adjust to climate change.

“Farmers already adapt to variable weather patterns by changing their planting schedules or moving animals to different grazing areas” she explains. But “what this study suggests is that the speed of climate shifts and the magnitude of the changes required to adapt could be much greater”, [CCFS’s Patti Kristjanson] concludes.

This means that farmers need to consider growing different crops. Due to its temperature sensitivity, wheat might be replaced with indigenous crops, like sorghum or cassava, which are better adapted to changing climate conditions. . . .

The report’s co-author, Philip Thornton, stresses that while innovations can help countries develop agricultural practices that address challenges presented by climate change, time is limited. “Major adaptation efforts are needed now if we are to avoid serious food security and livelihood problems later,” [ILRI/CCAFS’ Philip Thornton] explained.

Read the whole article at Nourishing the Planet: Climate change exacerbates scarcity in already food insecure regions, 3 Mar 2012.

Read more about the report and its extensive maps:
ILRI-CCAFS news release: Study reveals future ‘hotspots’ of risk for hundreds of millions whose food problems are on a collision course with climate change, 3 Jun 2011

ILRI blog post: Update: Mapping hotspots of climate change and food insecurity, 30 Jul 2012.

Read the report itself: Mapping Hotspots of Climate Change and Food Insecurity in the Global Tropics, by Polly Ericksen, Philip Thornton, An Notenbaert, Laura Cramer, Peter Jones and Mario Herrero, ILRI, 2011.

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