Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture and Food Security

Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture and Food Security

Sunil Londhe (International Centre for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF), India)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5487-5.ch002
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Many studies have demonstrated the sensitivities of crop yield to a changing climate, a major challenge for the agricultural research community is to relate these findings to the wider societal concern with food security. Apart from few exceptions, the likely impacts of climate change on agricultural sector in the future are not understood in any great depth. There are many concerns as to how changes in temperature, rainfall and atmospheric Carbon Dioxide concentrations will interact in relation to agricultural productivity. The present article is an attempt to distil about the likely effects of climate change on food security and nutrition in coming decades. The consequences of climate change on various important aspects of agriculture are discussed and summarized. The article also discusses the analysis on the possible mitigation measures and adaptations for agriculture production in the future climate change scenarios.
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Climate is the status of the climate system, comprises the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the cryosphere, the surface lithosphere and the biosphere. These elements all determine the state and dynamics of the Earth’s climate. It is a measure of the average pattern of variation in climatic parameters like precipitation, temperature, humidity, wind, atmospheric pressure, atmospheric particle count, and other meteorological variables in a given region over long periods of time. These climatic parameters are changing due to global warming. According to UNEP (2015) the climate change has long-since ceased to be a scientific curiosity and is no longer just one of many environmental and regulatory concerns. In addition, the CO2 concentrations and other greenhouse gases such as Methane, Nitrous Oxides, Chlorofluorocarbons and chlorofluorocarbon substitutes will continue to rise (Hartwell et al. 1996). The American Meteorological Society (AMS, 2015) explained climate change may be due to natural external forcing, such as changes in solar emission or slow changes in the earth's orbital elements; natural internal processes of the climate system; or anthropogenic forcing.

Many evidences are showing the world’s climate is changing, and the changes will have an enormous impact on people, ecosystems, and energy use. According to the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), average global temperature is likely to rise by another 2 to 8.6 degrees F by 2100. Further, Grif (2013) reported, climate change may have some serious impacts for farmers. It turns out that as the climate shifts, more and more crop pests are spreading and study has shown that these pests are moving at a rate of nearly two miles per year toward the North and South Poles. The findings could have major implications for food security in the future. The shifting weather pattern has threatened food production and food security on the globe. At the end of this century, different locations will experience different levels of increases in temperature, with the greatest impact toward the North Pole and the least increase toward the South Pole and in the tropics.

It is well known fact that agriculture production is dependent on set of climatic conditions. Each crop requires a particular climate for its growth, development and completion of its life cycle. This is one of the reason that farmers can cultivate a specific crop in a particular region which is having suitable climatic condition to that crop. The climatic resources which cannot be manipulated by the human beings are the deciding factor for successful cultivation of any crop. The one of these resources includes availability of the water for the crop. The availability of water for irrigation and the source of the water both are climate dependent factors. Both shortage and excess of water will interfere the agriculture production. The latest reports (FAO, 2013) of statistics of utilization of world land says that thirty percent of the earth’s land is used for crops and pastures and seventy percent of all abstracted freshwater is directed towards irrigation to produce the food that people and livestock need for a stable food supply. This large-scale utilization of land and water resources is increasingly threatening environments. Furthermore, farming is important because it provides the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people.

Agriculture system in many countries are particularly vulnerable for several reasons such as climate already too hot and often too dry; water supply is limited and variable; low and degraded soil quality and lack of adaptive capacity because of relatively poor regions and low levels of technology and research and development.

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