Download Now! Actions to Transform Food Systems under Climate Change

Major study addresses climate change threat to food security

Groundnuts produced in NW Ghana. The effects of climate change on yields for staple crops could be very dramatic. Pic: Neil Palmer (CIAT).
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Dic 1, 2010



As the global population grows and incomes in poor countries rise, so too, will the demand for food, placing additional pressure on sustainable food production. Climate change adds a further challenge, as changes in temperature and precipitation threaten agricultural productivity and the capacity to feed the world’s population.

A new major study launched today by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), assesses how serious the danger to food security might be and suggests some steps policymakers can take to remedy the situation.

The report finds that between now and 2050 staple-food prices could rise by 42-131 percent for maize, 11-78 percent for rice, and 17-67 percent for wheat, depending on the state of the world’s climate, economy, and population.

The study highlights poverty for three reasons. First, because the bigger consumers’ incomes, the greater their ability to afford higher food prices caused in part by climate change. Second, better-off families cope more easily with uncertainty. And third, farming families with higher incomes are better positioned to invest in new technologies that might be costly at the outset but improve productivity and resilience in the long run.

The authors conclude that the negative effects of climate change on food security can be counteracted by broad-based economic growth—particularly improved agricultural productivity—and robust international trade in agricultural products to offset regional shortages. In pursuit of these goals, policymakers should increase public investment in land, water, and nutrient use and maintain relatively free international trade. This inquiry into the future of food security should be of use to policymakers and others concerned with the impact of climate change on international development.

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You can watch a live webcast of the launch today at 12:15 EST