With all of the changes that are likely to happen to our planet as average global temperatures increase due to climate change, agriculture will be impacted around the world. This will be especially the case in developing countries that have limited financial resources and technologies available to adapt to such environmental impacts.
Climate change impacts on global agriculture
Some of the predicted climate change impacts on agriculture around the world include:
- Changes in rainfall patterns, leading to drought, water shortages for irrigation, and flooding.
- Extreme weather events such as hurricanes, heavy precipitation events, and droughts that negatively impact agricultural production.
- Rising temperatures, leading to shifts in growing seasons.
- Increased average temperatures and drought in areas that are already barren and devastated.
- Decreased production of traditional crops, as their survival threshold is surpassed due to high temperatures.
- Glacial melting, leading to flooding and soil erosion.
- Reductions in food availability, food accessibility, and food supply stability .
Predicted climate change impacts on agriculture in specific regions
Climate change is especially a threat to the global goals of sustainable development and eliminating poverty around the world. Because many of the agricultural systems in developing countries are already under stress today due to land and water resource degradation, climate change and its associated extreme weather events are likely to make such agricultural problems even worse .
Predicted climate change impacts on agriculture in Africa
- Many areas in Africa already have extremely variable climates, and flood and drought events can occur in the same area within a few months of each other.
- One-third of the African population, 220 million people, lives in drought-prone areas.
- Much of the land is already undergoing desertification and other forms of land degradation.
- Dust and sandstorms already negatively impact agriculture in the Sahara and Sahel.
- Increased climate variability and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events will lead to an increased risk of drought and flooding.
- Regions along Africa’s coastlines risk inundation of seawater due to sea level rise, negatively impacting agriculture in those areas.
- An increase in water scarcity with great potential for conflicts. Nearly all of Africa’s rivers run along the boundaries of more than one country.
- Rainfed irrigation, the major water source for agricultural production in Africa, will be strained as variability of rainfall and drought increases on the continent. This will especially be problematic for subsistence farmers and in sub-Saharan Africa.
- There is predicted to be a large loss in African agricultural land, as well as shorter growing seasons and lower yields.
- Africa will likely experience a decline in many subsistence crops, including sorghum, maize, millet, and ground nuts, increasing food insecurity and the risk of hunger .
Predicted climate change impacts on agriculture in Asia
- Land and ecosystems in Asia are already being generally degraded, and are predicted to be at a higher risk with climate change impacts.
- Increased risk of extreme weather events such as heat waves, tropical cyclones, drought, intense rainfall, tornadoes, snow avalanches, floods, thunderstorms and dust storms could all have impacts on agricultural productivity.
- Reduction in crop yields in many regions, increasing the risk of hunger for millions of people.
- Reduction in soil moisture and evapotranspiration may lead to degradation and desertification of the land.
- Some northern areas may experience an increase in productivity .
Predicted climate change effects on agriculture in Latin America
- Torrential rain events, tropical cyclones, and floods are expected to negatively affect agricultural land.
- Arid and semi-arid areas will receive less rain, reducing the viability of agricultural land there.
- Agricultural yields are predicted to decrease throughout the region by the year 2100, although some areas may experience increased yields.
- Approximately half of agricultural land is predicted to experience deforestation and salinization by the 2050s.
- Food insecurity is expected to increase in dry area agricultural lands where salinization and erosion will likely occur, reducing yields and livestock productivity .
Predicted climate change effects on agriculture in the small island developing states
- Comprised of 51 states and territories throughout the Pacific, Indian, and Atlantic Oceans and the Caribbean Sea.
- Sea level rise is currently placing very valuable arable land and water resources at risk due to inundation and soil salinization, and such impacts are expected to increase as global temperatures increase.
- Extended periods of drought, a loss in soil fertility, and a reduced growing season. These effects are predicted to result in great economic losses and increase food insecurity.
- Extreme weather events will negatively impact agricultural production throughout the region .
What can be done?
The challenges that we face for agricultural production in developing countries due to climate change are many. A failure to adequately address climate change holistically as global community will result in the devastation of large portions of the Earth’s land, as well as its people, leading to an increase in food insecurity for many.
Both climate change mitigation and climate change adaptation approaches for agricultural production, such as through the use of permaculture design, must be taken into account to sustainably feed the human race in a warmer world.