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CCAFS study identifies future climate change hotspots

July 27th, 2011

Scientists highlight  possible food problems climate change could cause in the future in vulnerable regions such as Africa, Latin America and China

CIAT (International Center for Tropical Agriculture) published on its website an article about a study last month which identified the regions that could possibly become new climate change hotspots.
According to the study, the most vulnerable populations are in China and Latin America,  where within less than forty years hotter and drier seasons will worsen the already harsh situation.

The study was undertaken by a team of scientists and produced by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) with the aim of responding to the burning need to concentrate adaptation to climate change efforts in those areas where hard conditions might soon affect food production and food security and threat people’s lives.

There are 453 millions of food-insecure people in South Asia (including a large part of India) who live in areas that can face a potential five percent decrease in the length of the growing period within the next forty years, which would put production and people’s life in serious danger.

In Africa, India and China there are 56 million food-insecure people who live in areas where the maximum temperature during the growing season is expected to exceed 30 degrees Celsius by the mid 2050’s. This would mean that beans, maize and rice could barely tolerate this temperature and yields would decline.

In Latin America, even though food security is relatively stable, there is reason to be concerned since the population relies almost exclusively on local agriculture production and are is living in the crosshairs of climate change.

The study also shows areas of low sensitivity to climate change effects, but that is only because in these areas there is not much land devoted to crop production. An agriculture intensification would make them vulnerable.

“We are starting to see much more clearly where the effect of climate change on agriculture could intensify hunger and poverty, but only if we fail to pursue appropriate adaptation strategies, “said Patti Kristjanson, CCAFS.  “Farmers already adapt to variable weather patterns by changing their planting schedules or moving animals to different grazing areas. What this study suggests is that the speed of climate shifts and the magnitude of the changes required to adapt could be much greater. In some places, farmers might need to consider entirely new crops or new farming systems.”

“Evidence suggests that these specific regions in the tropics may be severely affected by 2050 in terms of their crop production and livestock capacity,” said Philip Thornton, CCAFS, “Major adaptation efforts are needed now if we are to avoid serious food security and livelihood problems later.”

Read original article here

Read updates on the study

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