Africa, South Asia Face Mega-Famines

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By Stephen Leahy

Feb 1 (IPS) – Climate change will cause major disruptions in the global food system, and adaptation to those changes needs to begin immediately, experts say.

Otherwise one-fifth of the world’s population could starve and millions of others become climate refugees, forced by heat and drought to abandon their lands and hunt for food elsewhere in the coming decades.

To prevent this nightmarish future, researcher David Lobell says the world community should focus its efforts where climate threats are likely to make the greatest impacts.

“We used historical data to determine what food-producing regions of the world were most sensitive to changes in temperature and rainfall,” said Lobell, author of the study published in the journal Science today.

“Impoverished regions of Southern Africa and South Asia will be hit first and hardest by climate change,” Lobell told IPS from his office at Stanford University’s Programme on Food Security and the Environment.

Other climate risk hot spots include Central America and Brazil. The analysis compared 20 climate change models for those areas and determined that average temperatures would rise one-degree Celsius in most areas by 2030.

An already hungry Southern Africa could face a 30-percent decline in maize production in the next two decades. Production of other staples like millet and rice are projected to fall by at least 10 percent, the analysis found.

“Rainfall and temperatures in the region are changing quite fast,” Lobell said.

future-food-bk-cover.pngMaize requires a great deal of water and rich soils — or lots of fertiliser — so it is not the best crop for regions that will get drier. Drought-resistant sorghum might be a better choice for farmers to plant from now on, Lobell suggested. In other areas, crops could be planted earlier than normal to avoid heat-related losses in summer.

Still, these strategies won’t be enough for some regions and they’ll require more expensive remedies, including new crop varieties and expanded irrigation.

Knowing these regions will only become hotter and drier provides a target for adaptation. However, making changes in agriculture and food production is difficult and complex.

“Innovations in policy are needed — not in technology,” said Geoff Tansey, a food policy researcher, writer and editor of a number of books on food policy, including the forthcoming “The Future Control of Food“.

“Extreme weather events are already reducing crop yields,” Tansey told IPS.

For complete article see Africa, South Asia Could Face Famines

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2 thoughts on “Africa, South Asia Face Mega-Famines

  1. […] Africa south asia face mega-famines One-fifth of the worldâs population could starve and millions of others become climate refugees, forced by heat and drought to abandon their lands and hunt for food elsewhere in the coming decades of climate change. Immediate action is needed say Submitted: 3 days ago Category: Science Submitter: RssFeed Website: stephenleahy.wordpress.com Report this link: Click here to report Comments: 0 […]

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