Climate Change And Agriculture: Economic Impact Analysis

by | Jun 23, 2024 | Climate Change

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Climate change and agriculture are two connected phenomena that occur globally. Climate change has a variety of effects on farming, including alterations in average temperatures, rainfall, and climate extremes (e.g., heat waves), differences in pests and diseases, alterations in atmospheric carbon dioxide and ground-level ozone concentrations, changes in the nutritional quality of some foods, and changes in sea level.

Climate change already harms agriculture, albeit the consequences are unevenly spread worldwide. Climate change will likely harm agricultural productivity in low-latitude countries, whilst the consequences in northern latitudes could be positive or negative. Climate change will likely raise food insecurity risk for some vulnerable groups, including people experiencing poverty.

How does Climate Change Impact Agriculture?

Predicted Effect Of Climate Change on Agriculture Over The Next 50 Years

Climate Element Expected Change by 2050 Confidence in Prediction Effect on Agriculture
CO2 Increase from 360 PPM to 450- 600 PPM Very high It is good for crops, Increases photosynthesis, and Reduces water use.
Sea level Rise Rise by 10-15cm Very high Loss of land, Coastal erosion, Flooding, Salinization of groundwater
Temperature Rise by 1-2°C increased frequency of heat waves High Faster or shorter growing seasons, Heat stress risk, Increased evapotranspiration
Precipitation Seasonal Changes by + or – 10% Low Drought, Soil problem, Water logging
Storminess Increased wind speeds, more intense rainfall events Very high Lodging, Soil erosion, Reduced infiltration of rainfall

The Economic Impact of Climate Change on Agriculture

Extreme weather and changeable seasons directly threaten farmers’ livelihoods and well-being in numerous ways.

Climate Change and Agriculture

  • Increased Food Insecurity

As dry seasons lengthen and water becomes scarcer, farmers are unable to grow or raise the food they need to generate an income and feed their families. Meanwhile, rising temperatures can cause spoiling and contamination, reducing the quality of items. As food supply disruptions worsen, one-third of people who already do not have enough to eat will bear the brunt of the consequences. It is predicted that global food prices could rise by 3% to 84% by 2050 due to the impact of the existing climate on lower yields. Moreover, food prices in developing countries will increase by up to 100% by 2050, exacerbating food insecurity and poverty.

  • Water Scarcity and Land Degradation

Alterations in rainfall patterns, deforestation, and overgrazing have a negative and often irreversible impact on agriculture. Farmers are battling to keep their animals healthy in drier, harsher climates. Crops are struggling to develop due to a lack of water and rising temperatures, and the soil is drying out. The land is becoming less productive and more sensitive to future shocks such as drought, and competition and struggle over resources are increasing as farmers compete for arable land and access to clean water.

  • Reduced Yield

Farmers have reported record-breaking losses. Worldwide food production is anticipated to fall by up to 30% by 2050 if farmers do not adjust to the consequences of climate change. These disruptions are not limited to farmers; climate change affects the whole agriculture sector, resulting in higher food prices and lower food supply worldwide. It is noted that every 1-degree temperature increase results in a 6% decline in wheat production. If such climatic situations persist, Global maize yield reductions are projected to be between 10% and 30% by 2050 if temperatures rise by 2 degrees.

  • Increased Poverty

Climate change directly influences farmers’ livelihoods as crop and animal losses result in lost income. Farmers in the world’s most vulnerable regions frequently live on the brink of poverty, and the risk increases as climate change accelerates. It is anticipated that 43 million people in Africa alone will be forced into poverty by 2030 if grain yields continue to fall. If we look at this from a broader perspective, the agriculture sector in the US could lose up to $19 billion annually by 2050 due to heat stress, reduced crop yields, and increased irrigation costs. The sub-Saharan region is not far behind as it is expected to face economic losses in agriculture exceeding $50 billion annually by 2050 due to climate change affecting crop production.

  • Migration & Displacement

Climate change also impacts agriculture by destroying farms or making environmental circumstances so tricky that farming is no longer viable. Every year, many farming families are compelled to abandon their farms and fields in pursuit of new opportunities. More than 23 million people worldwide were displaced by extreme weather in 2021.

Case Studies: Crop Adaptations

1. Milkweed Alternative Crop for Climate Adaptation.

Milkweed is the only food source for the beloved monarch butterfly, although it has long been deemed unattractive by most farmers. Herbicide use and increased production of genetically engineered crops have significantly dropped milkweed and monarch butterfly populations. However, recent innovative uses for milkweed fibre have caught the curiosity of a few inventive farmers in the Northeast. Milkweed production aids the environment by providing semi-permanent soil cover and habitat for monarch butterflies, pollinators, and other species. Furthermore, milkweed can serve as a speciality fibre crop, allowing farmers to meet a new market need for natural fibres while adjusting to climate change and having a low environmental impact.

2. Economics of Gully Erosion and Stabilisation: Last Resort Farm.

The Doyle-Burrs run a 272-acre diversified family farm in the northeast corner of Addison County, Vermont. In 1993, the Doyle-Burrs began their transition to organic certification by selling their dairy herd and focusing on hay and crop production. The farm runs a pick-your-own berry operation, an on-site farmstand, and a CSA programme. They also sell their vegetables at local farmers’ markets and wholesale to grocery stores, schools, and restaurants in Burlington, Williston, Winooski, and Bristol, Vermont.

Also Read: What Are The Three Principles Of Climate Smart Agriculture?

Policies to Protect Farmers from Climate Change

Adaptation to Climate Change: Strategies for Farmers

1. Sustainable Farming Practices

Many farmers now prioritize sustainability. Conservation tillage, cover cropping and crop rotation may aid trap carbon, improve soil health, and minimize water use. Furthermore, sustainable agricultural practices aid in biodiversity conservation, which is critical for preserving ecosystem resilience in the face of climate change.

2. Precision Agriculture & Technology

Technological developments have helped farms adapt to climate change and agriculture. Precision agriculture techniques, such as GPS-guided tractors and drones, let farmers use resources like water and fertilizer better. Farmers may use data-driven insights from weather forecasts and soil analysis to make illuminated decisions about when to plant, irrigate, and harvest, minimizing waste while increasing efficiency.

3. Maximising Existing Agricultural Land

Many farmers are switching to high-yield crop types and utilizing crop rotation and intercropping practices. Farmers can increase yields by maximizing land usage and minimizing the need for deforestation or land expansion. This method allows them to meet increased food demand while conserving natural ecosystems.

4. Resilient Infrastructure and Farm Design

Creating robust infrastructure is another game-changing tactic for climate change and agriculture. Farmers are creating climate-resistant buildings, storage facilities, and irrigation systems to survive severe weather. Farm design is evolving to include natural elements such as wetlands and windbreaks to prevent erosion and create microclimates that promote healthy crops and cattle.

The Future of Climate Change and Agriculture

According to the IPCC, global warming must be limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius to avoid catastrophic droughts, crop failures, and other impacts on human, animal, and planetary health. However, new research predicts that the world will reach this threshold in less than 12 years unless greenhouse gas emissions are reduced immediately and significantly. Climate scientists warn that by the end of the century, the earth may warm by more than 4 degrees Celsius and sea levels rise by more than a metre.

Even a 1.5-degree Celsius increase is not deemed safe. Still, each additional tenth of a degree of warming can impact human and animal health and farmers’ capacity to continue producing enough food. While the heat rises and climate change accelerates, smallholder farming households will confront even more difficulties and rugged working conditions. It will result in dwindling natural resources, an increased risk of crop failure and animal loss, a more significant threat of food poverty, and the loss of millions of lives and livelihoods. The stakes are more important than ever, so we must address the climate problem and develop climate-smart solutions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, climate change’s unpredictable nature poses enormous challenges for farmers worldwide, but they respond with creativity and adaptability. Farmers are beginning to prosper in the face of climate change problems by implementing tactics and practices like diversification and technology improvement. Their ability to adapt and innovate is critical for their livelihoods and food security. As the effects of climate change worsen, the agricultural community’s ability to adapt will be essential in ensuring a sustainable future for everybody.

Also Read: The Role Of AI In Agriculture: A Path To Sustainable Food Security

Author

  • Dr. Emily Greenfield

    Dr. Emily Greenfield is a highly accomplished environmentalist with over 30 years of experience in writing, reviewing, and publishing content on various environmental topics. Hailing from the United States, she has dedicated her career to raising awareness about environmental issues and promoting sustainable practices.

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