Climate change: agriculture must adapt to ensure global food security (Issue Date: 12 April, 2023)
| South China Morning Post
| Dr. Jeffrey Hung, Chief Executive Officer, Friends of the Earth (HK)
Climate change is a global problem which affects every aspect of our lives. With the world population predicted to grow to almost 10 billion by 2050, the agricultural sector will become even more strained as it seeks to feed everyone on a warming planet. The effect of climate change on food security is an issue that needs immediate attention.
Crop harvests in a warming climate will suffer amid rising temperatures and changing rainfall patterns. Current agricultural lands, particularly those closer to the equator, might no longer be suitable for growing crops. Dry spells reduce water availability and can cause water stress, while too much rain will cause soil to become waterlogged and suffocate plants, all of which will lead to lower yield and quality.
We must adopt smarter practices to ensure food security in a changing climate. These include adopting sustainable land management and conservation agriculture to enhance soil quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions; developing heat- and drought-tolerant crop varieties to mitigate risks of crop failure; and reducing agricultural water demand by discouraging farmers from growing water-intensive crops.
We can also enhance access to water by implementing efficient irrigation systems, harvesting rainwater and restoring degraded water catchment areas; address food waste to help reduce overproduction and food inequality; and enable technology and knowledge transfer to help developing countries embrace best practices and adapt to climate change.
Warming temperatures, changing rainfall patterns, extreme weather – the effects of climate change go beyond a direct disruption to our daily lives, with consequences for global food security and price stability. With global surface temperatures now 1.1 degrees Celsius higher than in the pre-industrial era, the agricultural industry must adapt to a changing climate.