Millions will suffer from hunger due to climate, FAO warns

According to FAO, if we don’t take action, up to 122 million people more will be driven into extreme poverty by 2030.

“Meeting the goals of eradicating hunger and poverty by 2030, while addressing the threat of climate change, will require a profound transformation of food and agriculture systems worldwide”. The appeal is included in the last Report on the state of food and agriculture, published by FAO on 17 October.

We will suffer from food insecurity like when we were hunter-gatherers

The farming sector – that includes forestry, fishing and zootechnics – is particularly threatened by rising temperatures, such as severe droughts and other extreme weather conditions, rising sea levels, ocean acidification and loss of biodiversity.

Graziano Da Silva Fao
FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva © Mustafa Ciftci/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

For this reason FAO said: “The population living in poverty could increase by between 35 and 122 million by 2030”, particularly in Sub Saharan Africa and South East Asia. “What climate change does is to bring back uncertainties from the time we were all hunter gatherers. We cannot assure any more that we will have the harvest we have planted”, FAO Director General José Graziano da Silva said at the presentation of the report. In addition, insecurity will expose both the poor to higher and more volatile food prices.

According to FAO “the costs of inaction exceed by far the cost of interventions

So, we need to take action as soon as possible, even though it won’t be easy, the report highlights, “due to the vast number of stakeholders involved, the multiplicity of farming and food processing systems, and differences in ecosystems”. “The benefits of adaptation outweigh the costs of inaction by very wide margins”, Graziano da Silva stated.

farmers Kenya
A group of farmers in Kenya © Brent Stirton/Getty Images

FAO suggests to adopt “climate-smart’ practices, such as the use of nitrogen-efficient and heat-tolerant crop varieties, zero-tillage and integrated soil fertility management”. This would boost productivity and farmers’ incomes.

But – the UN Agency reports – methods to lower emission intensity from agriculture as well as water-conserving alternatives to the flooding of rice paddies are also needed. And it is necessary to adopt plans to help smallholders adapt to climate change risks. And stop granting subsidies on unsustainable farming practices.

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