Glaciers melting, rivers flooding, rainforests burning, lakes shrinking, heat waves in Europe– whatever could go wrong went wrong in 2019! Most of us witnessed some or other forms of these extreme weather events in our respective geographical regions. The threat of climate change manifested itself claiming lives, displacing large populations, making many homeless and without jobs. In all the visible plights of those affected, the despair of farmers has been often neglected. To continue with such disregard for the producers of our food will only make the repercussions of climate change worse! It’s the need of the hour to focus our attention on the looming threat of an impending global food crisis which not will only starve us but it will also create social, political and economic unrest at global levels.
With the production and consumption boom since the days of the industrial revolution, the emission of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, have shot up significantly, leading to a high concentration of CO2 in the atmosphere which has caused the global temperature to rise by an average of 1.5-degree centigrade. By the end of the twenty-first century, it is estimated to reach by 2-degree centigrade if we go about our businesses as usual. And then, climate change is only expected to get worse!
Climate change has led to intense and frequent weather events and farmers have been one of the worst affected groups. Many of these farmers come from the continents of Asia and Africa. In Africa, which is home to some of the poorest countries in the world, most of its population rely on agricultural activities for its livelihood. In the absence of modern agricultural equipment, fertilisers, weather forecasting technology, these farmers have been producing their food doing subsistence farming. Countries like Chad, Cameroon, Niger & Nigeria have been facing a loss of water in the form of shrinking water bodies, which has severely affected their agricultural output. Frequent droughts and dry weather, lesser precipitation have made the land unfit for growing plants. As a result, many remain under-nourished or starved and the incidents of social unrest including violence have become common in such regions. Even in South Asia, where over seventy per cent of the population have agriculture as their means of livelihood, the onslaught brought by recent natural disasters have revealed that how offhand and unprepared the government of these nations are to tackle food insecurity caused by climate change. With the growing population in the region, which is at present around 1.8 billion, the main challenge would be to ensure the security of food for them. By 2050, the population is expected to grow by 4o per cent.
Changes in climate have been associated with changing patterns of agricultural pests and diseases; also, extreme weather events have made the saltwater from the rising sea level invade the land and have even reduced the nutritive value of our food such as a decreased concentration of zinc and iron. With droughts and high-intensity rainfall, the land has been eroding at a greater rate, too. As the temperature would rise, the crop yield would also decline significantly. All in all, our food security will diminish further. Today, we stand at a much greater risk of adding million more people to poverty and hunger if we do not take preventive measures to reduce the impacts of global warming and climate change.