‘Climate change would reduce staple crop yields in South Asia’

The Hindu, June 24, 2009

Experts have asked the South Asian countries to get ready to tackle the concerns of food security brought about by global warming and climate change.

In the next Century, climate change would reduce the staple crop yields in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa and would have a crippling effect on the stability and quantity of food supply and purchasing power of the agricultural population, they warned, adding that the situation would get further complicated with enhanced demand for food.

“India and neighbouring countries in South Asia should take preparatory steps to face such challenges,” said former Member of the Planning Commission in New Delhi, Anwarul Hoda.

Mr. Hoda, also India’s former chief negotiator at the WTO, was addressing a seminar here on “Future challenges of the international trade regime from South Asian perspectives” organised by CUTS International, an NGO engaged in research and advocacy on trade and regulatory issues. Mr. Hoda explained that climate change posed an imminent threat to food security, especially in the tropical regions, manifested by reduced crop yields. In addition, peaking oil supply and increasing demand for energy had forced diversion of arable land to production of bio-fuel, leading to soaring foodgrain prices. While the international trade regime might offer partial solutions to food insecurity, governments should take domestic initiatives for mitigation of damages made by climate change, he said.

CUTS International Secretary-General Pradeep S. Mehta said that policies aimed at adaptation were as important as measures for mitigation in combating climate change. A book titled ‘Reflections on Global Partnership for Development: Reality and Potential’ was also released. Meteorological evidence indicates that temperatures would increase in India by 2-4 degrees by 2050 and the number of rainy days in a year would come down by 15 or more. CUTS International Research Director Siddhartha Mitra said the rise in temperatures would bring down India’s wheat yield by 10 to 40 per cent by 2050.

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