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Climate Change Could Contribute to Higher Food Prices in Developing World

Climate Change Could Contribute to Higher Food Prices in Developing World
Climate Change Could Contribute to Higher Food Prices in Developing World

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Two new reports say climate change will reduce agriculture production and raise food prices in the developing world. The studies were released during a round of U.N. sponsored climate talks in Bangkok.

Outlook says less food will be available for more people

A new Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report says agricultural productivity in developing countries may decline by between nine and 21 percent by mid-century due to climate change. During the same period, the world's population is expected to grow to more than 9 billion, which may leave some countries more reliant on food imports.

A separate report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) says growing population and loss of production due to climate change will lead to increases in food prices.

At a teleconference, Gerald Nelson, lead author of IFPRI's report said, "Our models project that even without climate change, food prices will rise. But climate change makes the problem worse."

He said price increases and reduced supplies will lead to declines in calorie intake, reversing a trend of improving nutrition that would otherwise be taking place. The report estimates 25 million more children will be malnourished as a result of climate change than would have been without it.

Better farming techniques may improve crop yields

The FAO report notes the need to help developing-world farmers increase their yields and adapt to climate change. Leslie Lipper, who works for the FAO, says that there are ways to boost farmers' productivity and simultaneously reduce greenhouse gases.

"If we choose ways that are low-emission pathways that also increase the resilience; the ability of these farming systems to cope with increased droughts, shocks, and changes in climate, then we very much can reach both the goal of feeding the world to 2050 and improving the capacity of the agricultural sector to mitigate climate change," she said.

Both the FAO and IFPRI studies are part of an effort to make agriculture an equal partner in climate negotiations. They were released ahead of October's FAO food security summit in Rome.

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