How is climate change affect agriculture and our food security globally?
Climate change is a threat multiplier, especially in vulnerable countries. Countries with high levels of hunger are often most vulnerable to climate change, such as the case of India. Climate climate not only affects food production and availability but also food access, quality and stability of food systems.
Climate change affects the agricultural sector in multiple ways. For instance, increasingly uncertain precipitation patterns affect regions that are rain-fed and not well irrigated. This is especially relevant in Africa and South Asia. Climate change also increases the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events such as droughts, floods, wildfires, cyclones and more. This can lead to food losses and tremendously affect food-security. In coastal regions, rising sea levels impacts food security.
Climate models also predict higher average global temperatures and hotter extremes, which will dramatically increase occurrence of droughts. This will affect crop biodiversity- some varieties would no longer grow in hotter climates while other many varieties would perish as a result of droughts. Reduced crop-biodiversity will further reduce agricultural resilience in the face of climate change, resulting in a negative feedback loop. Additionally, higher levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide make crops less nutritious.
Interestingly, agriculture is not only effected by climate change but also contributes to it. Globally, agriculture and related-sectors (fisheries, livestock etc) comprise of almost 30% of emissions. About 2/3rds of produced crop is wasted, contributing to climate change without increasing food security.
Some innovative agricultural techniques that are intended to reduce emissions from agriculture include conservation agriculture, climate-smart agriculture and agroecology.