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Global warming may cause shift in international food production markets

12:50 | 28.07.2015 | Analytic

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28 July 2015. PenzaNews. Global warning will increase the importance of agricultural technologies in the nearest future for many tropical countries threatened by food crisis, claim Goh Tian and Jonatan A. Lassa, research fellows of the Center for Non-Traditional Security Studies at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), in their joint article titled “Climate change and food supply: Reinforcing the North-South divide.”

Global warming may cause shift in international food production markets

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They point out that the common forecast for the impact of climate change is negative, but the actual consequences will vary depending on the region.

In their opinion, the increase of average temperature will primarily affect the tropics and cause spontaneous droughts and floods, while the countries with temperate climate will end up in a much more beneficial situation.

According to them, the greenhouse effect will make areas to the north of Canada, Russia and the US, to the south of Argentina, and in the uphill tropics will become usable for farming.

“However, favorable conditions do not necessarily translate into production improvements in all these countries. Those who will benefit will be countries and corporations that can exploit the potential benefits from a changing climate. The real impact of climate change on food security is thus the shifting of food production centers and the potential changes in power dynamics, not only between exporters and importers, but also between small and large producers,” the authors suggest.

They point out that the struggle between producers for new farmlands and export market advantage has already begun, a case easily seen in Canada.

“Some 162,000 hectares of maize were harvested in 2013 in Canada, double the amount in the previous two years. The area for maize production is expected to increase in the Canadian Prairies as growing seasons have increased by two weeks over the last 50 years and temperatures are expected to continue increasing, favoring maize cultivation,” the experts note.

At the same time, they suggest that the global warming will put many developed countries located in downhill tropics will end up at a disadvantage.

“Inequality in food production will be exacerbated by the lack of access to technology – the means required to reap the benefits of climate change or to reduce the impact of climate change,” emphasize the research fellows of the Center for Non-Traditional Security Studies.

They also added that global warming will affect the fishing industry as well, as fish will migrate further to the North, leading to double or even triple catch volumes for such countries as Norway and Sweden.

“Some studies, including anecdotal studies, have projected that tropical seawaters such as those in Indonesia and the Philippines may be hit hard by warming and ocean acidification which can cause fish to migrate to deeper waters,” Goh Tian and Jonatan Lassa continue.

Moreover, they note that the sea climate in the future may become more unpredictable due to growing temperatures, causing many fishermen to lose a significant portion of the work season. According to the experts, this will place great stress on lives of many people in developing countries who rely on fishing as their only means to earn money.

“Large fishing companies and countries with better fishing equipment and satellite technology for locating potential fish catch regions will benefit from fishing effectiveness and greater yields. Consequently, small and traditional fishermen with small boats will be at risk,” the authors claim.

From their point of view, the lack of detailed research in agriculture, livestock and fisheries practically forces the vast population of the Southeast Asia to depend on the outcome of climate change.

Moreover, according to them, the situation may become even more difficult as new climate conditions may render traditional means to boost yield and fish catch volumes counterproductive.

In particular, they think that the rapid expansion of aquaculture as an adaptation measure to make up for reduction in wild fish catch may also destroy coastal habitats that sustain wild fish population, while lack of knowledge of the causes of decline in crop and vegetable yields could also push local farmers to engage in over-use of pesticides and fertilizers with no actual effect.

Morever, Goh Tian and Jonatan Lassa note that the effects of global warming on cattle farming and production of secondary and less popular agricultures is very poorly investigated, while use of new arable lands, even with the modern levels of technology, is a difficult task that requires close and constant contact between producers and researchers.

“For example, the opening up of tropical highlands for agriculture needs to be matched with adequate land-use management, to prevent sedimentation in coastal areas which could destroy habitats required for the reproduction of wild fish and areas for aquaculture farming,” the experts explain.

In conclusion, they stress the urgent need to transfer enough finance, knowledge and technology to bridge the gap both between small and large producers and between tropical and temperate countries.

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