Discuss the Consequences of Climate Change on the Food Security in Tropical Countries. (150 words - 10 marks)

by Vajiram & Ravi

According to IFPRI’s Global Food Policy Report 2022, around 70 million people are at risk due to climate change-induced hunger, with 28 million people from regions like Eastern and Southern Africa.

Impact of Climate Change on Food Security in Tropical Countries

  • Forest degradation: Rising temperatures and reduced rainfall lead to more forest fires in tropical forests like the Amazon. This damages the forest, making future fires more likely, creating a destructive cycle of degradation and permanently changing into shrubland. This impacts the livelihood of the people dependent on these forests.
  • Double Vulnerability: Smallholder Farmers and High Population Density: Smallholder farmers in tropical regions, coupled with high population density, face amplified challenges from climate change. They often lack the resources and technology needed to adapt, magnifying the impact on food security.
    • According to the World Bank, 80% of those most vulnerable to climate-induced hunger and crop failures reside in Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Southeast Asia, exacerbating the vulnerability of the poor.
  • Complex interdependencies among climate change, political instability, and poverty: Tropical areas like Africa are already grappling with these complexities. Climate change exacerbates existing vulnerabilities, leading to food and water scarcity, displacement, and economic setbacks.
  • Decline in Crop Yields:
    • Rising temperatures and increased evaporation in tropical areas decrease the soil moisture, which impacts crop productivity
      • According to IPCC 2nd AR, one-third of the land is already degraded, and by 2050, Rice and maize production will be reduced upto 20-30%.
    • Nations like India, Nigeria, Brazil, and Indonesia will face slowed agricultural growth, raising food availability concerns.
  • Loss of Arable Land:
    • Sea-level rise, coastal erosion, saltwater intrusion and flooding make agricultural lands unusable in tropical coastal areas and small islands.
    • Countries like Bangladesh, Philippines, Fiji, etc., with large coastal populations, face risks of permanent loss of fertile lands and freshwater sources.
    • Migration and loss of livelihood for farmers accelerate food insecurity for the poor who have limited alternate means of income generation.
  • Changing Growing Seasons: A rise in global temperatures is causing trees and plants to produce fruit earlier or later than before — throwing off the species that feed on them, including humans.
  • Reduced water availability and soil degradation:
    • Increased rainfall variability, shrinking glaciers and reduced river flow due to higher evaporation decrease water availability for irrigation in tropical countries.
    • Water scarcity will directly limit crop production in tropical agricultural zones, which often lack developed irrigation infrastructure.
      • For example, rain-fed agriculture employs 60% of India's farmers.
    • Increased Pests and Diseases: According to the FAO, upto 40 per cent of food crops are lost to plant pests and diseases each year. Pests thrive in warm and humid tropical climates and impact the food security of the region.
      • The recent invasion of desert locusts throughout the Horn of Africa shows the vulnerability of crops to pests.
    • Threats to Fisheries:
      • Ocean warming and acidification harm fish breeding, habitats, and stock distribution. This hits tropical countries like India, Indonesia, and Malaysia, dependent on marine fisheries.
      • Impacts nutrition security as they are the source of micronutrients and protein for the poor.

The UNFCCC-COP27 recognized that safeguarding food security and ending hunger is a fundamental priority. It also focused on nature-based solutions, such as restoring forests and wetlands, in mitigating and adapting to climate change.

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