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Climate change to hinder access to food: report

world Updated: Oct 12, 2009 00:57 IST

Hindustan Times
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Before every big global negotiation, there are several smaller meetings of parties-MOPs-to pre-negotiate.

Copenhagen is no exception-so currently, we have the Bangkok MOP. Several new reports are released during such meetings. One of the most important ones – released to coincide with Bangkok, is by the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington DC. It says climate change will greatly hinder our access to food.

Many of us are unhappy about current food prices in India, and we recall gleefully how our state governments have been toppled over the prices of onions.

Well, this study suggests, that can’t be repeated. Thanks to a combination of climate change and other economic factors, the food prices will shoot up more than we ever imagined in the coming decades, till 2050.

Consider the main food crops-wheat prices will increase by over 170%, rice by 121% and maize by 153%. Even without climate change, the increases would be huge-40%, 60% and 60% respectively. But climate change means less agricultural area available as rain patterns change and droughts increase. Simply put, food you pay more for will be a scarce commodity.

India has to at once excavate its indigenous knowledge and biodiversity. There are hundreds of local sub-species of rice and other crops that are nearly extinct, but can withstand drought and grow in harsh conditions. Adaptation means a race to incentivise these at once. Otherwise India, home to some of the highest malnutrition rates and 700 million people below the poverty line, can forget about real growth.