Food losses due to climate change exceed $12 trillion

2023-10-15 2023-10-15T14:20:53Z
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Weather of Arabia - The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reported in a report published on Friday that losses in crops and livestock during the past thirty years were estimated at approximately $3.8 trillion as a result of catastrophic events, whether resulting from natural disasters or disasters resulting from human intervention. This amount equates to an average estimate of $123 billion in losses per year, or 5% of global agricultural GDP per year.

The impact of disasters on agriculture and food security

This major new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), “The Impact of Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security,” represents the first global assessment focused on estimating the impact of disasters on agricultural production, with a focus on crops and livestock.

The report also notes that these numbers could be higher if there were regular data on losses in other sub-sectors such as fisheries, aquaculture and forestry. It stresses the importance of improving data quality and providing information on the impact of disasters on all agricultural subsectors urgently, in order to create robust data systems that represent the basis on which effective actions and strategic guidance can be based.

Climate change and disasters threaten food security

In the introduction to the report, FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu noted the importance of agriculture as a sector that relies heavily on natural resources and climate conditions, making it one of the sectors most vulnerable to disaster risks. He stressed that recurring disasters may reverse the gains achieved in the field of food security and threaten the sustainability of agricultural and food systems. He noted that this report builds on FAO's technical expertise and highlights opportunities to effectively address risks in agricultural and food systems, and presents methods that can be used to integrate disaster risk management into agricultural practices and policies.

Low-income countries are more affected by disasters

The report shows that over the past 30 years, low- and lower-middle-income countries have had the largest share of relative losses, amounting to up to 15% of their agricultural GDP due to disasters. Disasters are defined here as a serious disruption of the functioning of a community or community. The disasters also had a significant impact on small island developing states, with losses in these states amounting to about 7% of their agricultural GDP.

Crops are at risk due to disasters and climate changes

The report also indicates that losses related to major groups of agricultural products continue to increase. Cereal losses have averaged 69 million tons per year over the past three decades, which is equivalent to France's entire cereal production in 2021. They are followed by fruits, vegetables and sugar crops, with average losses each approaching 40 million tons per year. Regarding fruits and vegetables, the losses are equivalent to the total fruit and vegetable production of Japan and Vietnam in 2021.

Meat, dairy and eggs record losses averaging 16 million tons per year. This is equivalent to the combined meat, dairy and egg production of Mexico and India in 2021.

Variation in losses caused by climate change between countries

Global losses show significant variation across regions, subregions and groups of countries. Asia was significantly affected by the bulk of the overall economic losses. Africa, Europe and the Americas also showed a similar order of magnitude. However, losses in Asia represented only about 4% of agricultural value added, while in Africa they represented approximately 8%. Fluctuations between sub-regions were even greater.

It is noteworthy that losses in absolute terms were higher in high-income, lower-middle-income and upper-middle-income countries. However, the prevalence of losses in terms of agricultural value added is highest in low-income countries, especially small island developing States.

From 100 disasters to 400 disasters every year

This information shows that the frequency of catastrophic disasters has increased from the 1970s when there were about 100 events per year to about 400 events per year in the past two decades. The report noted that these disasters have increased in frequency, severity and complexity, but their effects are also expected to worsen due to the increasing impacts of climate and environmental changes on social and economic aspects.

The report stresses that risks, when they emerge, can have impacts that reach multiple systems and sectors. The underlying drivers of disaster risk and climate change include poverty, inequality, increased population growth, health emergencies resulting from pandemics, unsustainable land use and management practices, armed conflict and environmental degradation.

Disasters may lead to population displacement

The magnitude of loss and damage resulting from disasters depends on the interaction of the hazard with vulnerability and risk factors already in place, as well as where this interaction occurs, and the size of the assets or livelihoods at risk.

In extreme cases, disasters lead to the displacement of people from rural areas and their migration to other areas. For example, large floods triggered by abnormal monsoon rains in Sindh province in southern Pakistan illustrate how a variety of slow and sudden hazards can lead to displacement and thus a negative impact on food systems and increased food insecurity.

Agriculture is in danger and needs a strategic plan to combat disasters and climate change

Farmers, especially smallholders who depend on rain for their agriculture, are among the most vulnerable actors in agricultural and food systems affected by disasters, and they bear the brunt of disaster impacts disproportionately. Supporting smallholder farmers to adopt good agricultural practices that reduce disaster risks at the farm level can help avoid losses and increase their adaptive capacity and resilience. Investing in good agricultural practices to deal with disaster risks could be 2.2 times more effective than the previous practices they relied on.

Early and well-timed response actions to deal with anticipated risks play a crucial role in building resilience by preventing and reducing disaster risks in the agricultural sector. For example, proactive actions implemented in several countries have shown that investing in disaster prevention and increasing adaptive capacity can achieve a favorable ratio of benefits to costs.

The report indicates that for rural households, every US$1 invested in early prevention actions could provide up to US$7 in gains and avoided agricultural losses.

The report identifies three main objectives for action:

  • Improving the quality of data and information on the impacts of disasters on various agricultural sectors, including crops, livestock, fishing, aquaculture and forestry.
  • Develop and adopt a multi-sectoral, multi-risk approach to reducing the impact of disasters and extend these approaches to policies and programs of action at all levels.
  • Promoting investments in enhancing adaptive capacity and resilience, which contributes to reducing disaster risks in the agricultural sector and improving agricultural production and living standards.

Source: skynewsarabia

This article was written originally in Arabic and is translated using a 3rd party automated service. ArabiaWeather is not responsible for any grammatical errors whatsoever.
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