World agricultural patterns can change with climate change

The Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS) research programme of the Consortium of International Agricultural Research Organisations (CGIAR) has published a policy brief looking at the impact of climate change on global agricultural patterns.

The CCAFS brief states that an already uphill task of generating food for the increasing global population by 2050 has been made more complex with climate change. A combination of global warming and increasing frequency of extreme weather events will make it difficult to grow many of the food crops. Though some crops like warmer weather, they can become increasing susceptible to pest and diseases.

Production of wheat, maize and rice and also livestock production and fisheries will be challenged by climate change. “The recalibration of agriculture will eventually extend beyond what is grown and raised. The world’s many cultures must adapt to the changing dinner menu forced upon them due to climate change,” states the brief.

The CGIAR is a network of 15 international agricultural research centres working for increasing food production in the developing countries. The more famous ones are the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) headquartered near Manila in the Philippines and the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center (CIMMYT) headquartered in Mexico City, Mexico. India hosts the International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and Sri Lanka hosts the International Water Management Institute (IWMI).

Though the CGIAR centres have been researching in the last few decades to increase food production by overcoming abiotic (drought, flood, salinisation, etc.) and biotic (pest and disease) stress, it is in the past few years that the research programmes of the different centres were dovetailed into a research programme to deal with climate change.

The CGIAR Centres also hold in trust for humanity more than 600,000 accession of germplasm (seeds) of food crops. This diversity could be the source of genes for developing crop varieties that can withstand the new stresses that climate change will generate.

The policy brief can be accessed from this link.