Agriculture to Climate Change: From Food to Fasting

This year’s Climate and Society class is out in the field (or lab or office) completing a summer internship or thesis. They’ll be documenting their experiences one blog post at a time. Read on to see what they’re up to. 

By Harneet Kaur, Climate and Society 2014

Nearly a quarter of the world’s population finished fasting for Ramadan last month. Of course, fasting is a fixture of other religions as well from Hinduism to Christianity. Embarked as a symbol of faith, people from varied religions, take pride and pleasure in observing fasts. In my view, spirituality has kept people connected and sacred fasting is one of the many ways to feel connected with God (or Gods) in various religions.

Last month also marked another milestone that affects a billion people: the onset of the Indian monsoon. This year’s monsoon has been a little delayed, though it’s still providing relief and water for the many smallholder farmers that rely on it.

But the delay is still not without consequences: food prices in India have increased as has the rate of inflation, making it tougher for the poverty-struck marginalized population to avoid hunger.

Now, one might think how these two different pictures relate!

These current discussions invoked a thought in my mind: What if climate change affects agriculture and food security to the point where we have to live from ‘food to fasting’ on a regular basis?

Source:  krislitman/Flickr

Source: krislitman/Flickr

Although this might sound bit ambiguous, the magnitude of the impact of climate change on agriculture is foreseeable. During my internship at the International Food Policy Research Institute, I realized that amidst commendable efforts made by the international organizations to ensure food security and nutrition in the developing world, agriculture is still extremely vulnerable when it comes to climate variability and change.

Recent statistics from the Hunger Project reveal that nearly 12 percent of world’s population faces hunger. The situation is very pronounced in Asia, where 552 million people do not have enough to eat.

Climate change is expected to make some aspects of agriculture worse for some regions of the world. Poorer grain yields and inflated crop prices in the developing world due to climate change could lead to a 20 percent increase in child malnutrition by 2050.

Amongst all the efforts taken by the international development agencies to safeguard agriculture from the devastating effects of climate change, there still exists grave need to scale up climate services for the farmers. Climate services which educate farmers about agro-meteorology, integrate their indigenous knowledge on weather forecast and train them about sustainable agricultural practices.


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