Climate-related events disrupt agriculture, making it challenging for farmers and agricultural laborers to plan and work efficiently. To address this crisis, farmers and policymakers must adopt precise strategies
By Carlos Roa
Around 2.3 billion people in the world (29.3%) were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021, according to a United Nations report. This is 350 million more compared to before the outbreak of the COVID‑19 pandemic.
The source adds that nearly 924 million people –or 11.7% of the global population– faced food insecurity at severe levels, an increase of 207 million in two years.
To make things worse, “Climate change is a primary driver of global hunger”, as the United Nations World Food Program USA states.
Going deeper into the situation, they add that “Climate change affects the functioning of all components of global food systems, and food systems are a major contributor to global heating. Food availability, diversity, access, safety, and nutrient quality are affected by climate shocks and stresses.”
Heavy rainfall and flooding can damage crops, disrupt planting and harvesting schedules, as well as rendering fields inaccessible. Moreover, it can lead to shifts in the timing of seasons and more unpredictable weather patterns. This makes it challenging for agriculture workers to plan their work, resulting in inefficiencies and income instability.
Climate change may also require farmers to invest in new technologies or practices to adapt to changing conditions. This can increase production costs and potentially reduce the income that workers receive.
Agricultural laborers are also impacted
However, all this might not only affect food access in the long term. Rising temperatures adversely hit not just crop quantity and quality but also the efficiency of agricultural laborers, resulting in premature fatigue and diminished work capacity. All this could exacerbate food insecurity even in the upcoming months.
In addition, this group is facing reductions in their earnings as a result of climate change. The impact of this assertion can be measured by the fact that roughly 2 billion people –or 26.7% of the world population– derive their livelihoods from agriculture, according to Global Agriculture.
The presence of extreme heat, excessive rainfall, flooding, or unpredictable climate patterns is hindering their ability to earn higher incomes, thus bringing home less food or even losing their jobs.
This is another element that exacerbates food insecurity for countless households across the globe.
How to face the situation
Facing climate change in agriculture is crucial. Farmers and policymakers must adopt strategies and practices that help mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change in agriculture. Here are some key steps to address the problems:
1. Climate-Resilient Crop Selection:
- Choosing crop varieties that are more resilient to changing climate conditions, such as drought-resistant or heat-tolerant crops.
2. Crop Rotation and Diversification:
- Implement crop rotation and diversification to reduce the risk of crop failure due to extreme weather events or pest and disease outbreaks.
3. Improved Water Management:
- Invest in efficient irrigation systems to conserve water and manage its use effectively.
- Collect and store rainwater for use during dry periods.
4. Soil Health Management:
- Adopt soil conservation practices like no-till farming and cover cropping to improve soil health and reduce erosion.
- Use organic matter and compost to enhance soil fertility.
5. Precision Agriculture:
- Utilize technology, like GPS-guided tractors and drones, to optimize resource use, such as fertilizers and pesticides, and reduce waste.
6. Climate-Smart Farming Techniques:
- Implement agroforestry practices, which involve planting trees among crops to provide shade and improve soil health.
- Explore techniques like conservation tillage to reduce soil erosion and carbon loss.
Adapting to climate change in agriculture requires a multifaceted approach that combines traditional knowledge with innovative solutions and ongoing research.
It’s important for farmers, communities, governments, and international organizations to work together to build resilience in agriculture and ensure food security in a changing climate.