The UN’s latest IPCC report Climate Change and Land, published in 2019, highlights the ominous outlook for the world’s food system.
“Observed climate change is already affecting food security through increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and greater frequency of some extreme events,” says the report.
Reduced yields will lead to more frequent price spikes, says David Lobell, deputy director of the Center on Food Security and the Environment at Stanford University, California. Here are some of the crops that will be affected:
1. Corn – global production is 4% lower than it would have been if the climate were not warming. A global rise in temperatures of 1˚C would slow the rate of growth by 7%, and with a high percentage of corn going to feed livestock, lower yields could mean higher meat prices.
2. Coffee – the number of regions in Africa suitable for growing coffee is predicted to fall anywhere from 65% to 100% as the climate warms.
3. Chocolate – a widely cited study from the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), found that the supply of cacao beans (chocolate’s raw ingredient) will deplete over the next few decades due to rising temperatures and falling water supplies.
4. Beans – including black beans, which feature highly in Latin American and African diets, are affected by higher temperatures which impact flowering and seed production, reducing yields by up to 25%, according to CIAT.
5. Fruit – peaches, cherries and apples are among those that could be adversely affected as all require ‘chill time’ to bear fruit. Not enough cold nights and the trees are less likely to achieve successful pollination – and less blossom means fewer fruit.
The farmers and technologies working to futureproof our food stocks