No body have ever thought of growing wheat in Alaska and in regions such as Siberia but scientists and researchers have given a thought to it a long time back. But, its time for farmers to know that the world has changed, and they must adapt to new models. Global warming is not any more in the debate rooms but it is something that scientists believe for sure is going to hit the globe pretty fast. No one will be able to escape its fatal effects. But the most grave effect will be on the agricultural production which is declining every year and the worst that follows is ever increasing number of mouths to feed.
This is a major challenge the scientists are talking about and the challenge needs to be dealt at every level, from ideas about social justice to the technology of food production. Farmers now have to believe that this technology is in their best interests, it’s not about maximizing corporate profits, but its about ending world hunger.
The most significant impact of climate change on agriculture is probably changes in rainfall. Some regions are forecast to receive more rain, others to receive less; above all, it will become more variable. Moreover, increasing temperatures also affect crops. Photosynthesis slows down as the thermometer rises, which also slows the plants’ growth and capacity to reproduce. Conversely, rising temperatures will open up areas of the world which are currently too cold for crop cultivation, in regions such as Siberia and northern North America.
However, extra yield from these regions will not fill the shortfall in the tropics – added to which there are questions of how poorer tropical countries will afford to buy food from richer temperate states.
All this means, that research into the technological, social and economic dimensions of future farming needs to accelerate.
The only solution to all this is Climate-proof crops.
One of the most exciting initiatives aims to make a fundamental modification to rice so it becomes more efficient at using the Sun’s energy. Rice is a so-called C3 plant. Other crops, including maize, use a better photosynthesis mechanism called C4, and Irri scientists aim to develop rice strains which also use the C4 mechanism.
Away from the field of crop improvements, CGIAR scientists will also be detailing approaches to reducing greenhouse gas emissions from farming.
One simple method which is proven, but which by no means all farmers are aware of, is no-till or minimum-till agriculture, where fields are ploughed and disturbed as little as possible. This keeps carbon in the soil rather than sending it into the air as carbon dioxide. Nitrous oxide (N2O) is a more potent greenhouse gas than CO2, and is released when fertiliser breaks down.
Global warming is something that will include large scale human migrations and the return to large-scale famines in developing countries, something which was decided 40 or 50 years ago but was unacceptable then and least was done before reaching the situation we are into now.