Tuesday, 8 March 2016

"Climate change may have already begun to take its toll of agriculture"

In the context of a "10 % reduction in crop yields" it might be worthwhile reading the second article reposted from last year.

Is it "lies,lies and statistics"?

Weather Extremes Slash Cereal Yields

    Wheat and other cereal crops in Australia, above, and other developed countries have been devastated. (CSIRO via Wikimedia Commons)

This Creative Commons-licensed piece first appeared at Climate News Network.

LONDON—Climate change may have already begun to take its toll of agriculture. New research suggests that drought and extreme heat in the last 50 years have reduced cereal production by up to 10%. And, for once, developed nations may have sustained greater losses than developing nations.

Researchers have been warning for years that global warming as a consequence of rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—in turn, a pay-off from increased fossil fuel combustion—will result in a greater frequency or intensity in extremes of weather.

They have also warned more recently that weather-related extremes could damage food security in EuropeAfrica and India.

Global cost

But a study in Nature journal by Navin Ramankutty, professor in global food security and sustainability at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and colleagues is perhaps the first to identify the global cost of weather-related disasters in the last half of the 20th century.

The researchers looked at 2,800 extreme hydro-meteorological disasters—floods, droughts and extremes of heat and cold—reported between 1964 and 2007 from 177 countries, and matched the data with production figures for 16 cereal crops.

They could detect no significant influence from floods or ice storms, but they found that drought and extreme heat reduced average national cereal production by between 9% and 10%.

Drought reduced both cereal yield and the area under harvest, while heat mainly affected  yield. This is likely to be a consequence of different timescales: droughts can last for years, but heatwaves tend to be counted in no more than weeks.
Until now we did not know
exactly how much global production was lost
to such extreme weather events.”
And the more developed nations reported harvest reductions from 8% to 11% more than the poorer societies. In Australia, North America and Europe, harvest levels dropped by an average of 19.9% because of drought—roughly double the global average.

Significantly, the more recent droughts had a far larger effect on cereal production than the earlier droughts, the implication being that such extreme events are on the increase.

Research such as this depends on clever statistical approaches and vast volumes of data—much of it from UN agencies such as the Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Emergency Events Database, which recently confirmed that extreme weather-related events are more frequent.

And, the researchers say, the hazards to harvests will continue, and continue to row.

Climate projections

Present climate projections suggest that extreme heat events will be increasingly common and severe in the future,” they report. “Droughts are likely to become more frequent in some regions, although considerable uncertainty persists in the projections.”

Professor Ramankutty says: “We have always known that extreme weather causes crop production losses. But until now we did not know exactly how much global production was lost to such extreme weather events, and how they varied by different regions of the world.”

His co-author, Corey Lesk, a geographer at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, says: “Across the breadbaskets of North America, for example, the crops and methods of farming are very uniform across huge areas, so if a drought hits in a way that is damaging to those crops, they will all suffer.

By contrast, in much of the developing world, the cropping systems are a patchwork of small fields with diverse crops. If a drought hits, some of those crops may be damaged, but others may survive.”

Tim Radford, a founding editor of Climate News Network, worked for The Guardian for 32 years, for most of that time as science editor. He has been covering climate change since 1988.

This might be the most important news (apart from what's happening in the Arctic)

Mongolia has lost 80 percent of their crops due to drought.

China and Russia, according to this article have lost 20-25 per cent of their crops. 

20-15 per cent!!
80 percent of crops dead, 150 billion MNT buried in the ground
Approximately 80 percent of Mongolia’s crops have died this summer due to extreme drought across the country, according to board member of the Mongolian Plantation Union B.Erdenebat

24 July, 2015

Though the situation has reached a critical level, the Ministry of Industry and Agriculture has yet to take action, let alone announce to the public what is happening.

According to B.Erdenebat, who is more commonly known as a member of the famous Mongolian pop group Camerton, crop fields remain productive in only in the regions of the Khalkh River in Bulgan and Selenge provinces.

Not counting equipment purchase costs, B.Erdenebat said the damages amount to 150 billion MNT so far. Some soums have started preparing soil for next year, as it is evident that no yield can be expected this year.

According to B.Erdenebat, crop farmers and provinces have been urging the ministry to prepare for cloud seeding to force rain, without much success, since winter.

Crop farmers and union members have been telling the ministry [about drought conditions] all winter. We asked them to allocate a budget and prepare cloud seeding equipment and cartridges. We reminded them that plantation yield is cyclical and that since the last few years gave a good harvest, this year will be difficult. But the ministry did not take any measures. They have been very irresponsible in this regard. They kept reciting bad financial standings and didn’t heed our words,” B.Erdenebat told Udriin Sonin.

Almost 80 percent of the cloud seeding cartridges were used to put out the wildfire in Dornod Province this spring… China and Russia have lost 20 to 25 percent of their crops, but we lost 80 percent,” he dded.

Although cloud seeding has been effective in bringing about rain in the past, the union said that the state’s cloud seeding personnel had been changed entirely and the new staff haven’t been able to produce rain effectively.

The prices of flour and rice will increase this fall due to the losses in crops, according to analysts.

Last year, Mongolia harvested more than it had in over 17 years, but the state only reserved 30,000 tons of grain, a one-month reserve. According to B.Erdenebat, the Plantation Union advised the ministry to buy reserves from private companies, and received no response.

Mongolia should at least have a year’s worth of reserve since it can’t manage four to five years like bigger countries. But the ministry didn’t listen. The people will feel what it’s like to live in a country with no reserve this fall,” he said.

B.Erdenebat said that when given the official report on the dying crops, the ministry told him “not to be so downtrodden and think about good things.”
The Ministry of Agriculture refused to comment via phone on the issue.

B.Erdenebat said that next year will also be a difficult one for crop farmers and plantations, as cyclical droughts usually continue for two to three years.
The consequences of going thirsty

It is astounding how little attention is being given to the agricultural industry issue when it is in such a dire state. The domestic production of Mongolia’s most basic food commodity of flour and grain has just been cut.

Any smart food supplier should be ramping up their reserves of wheat and rice right now, because it doesn’t take an economist to know that prices are about to jump. Inflation is bound to increase this fall, illustrating once again just how fragile and vulnerable Mongolia is to external and environmental shocks.

For years, the agricultural sector has provided the most jobs in Mongolia, particularly in rural areas, and received substantial state support and subsidies. 
Other sectors enviously point out how crop farmers get all sorts of soft loans for equipment, seed, and supplies, as well as subsidies for their production, but other industries can’t.

The state has invested hundreds of billions of MNT over the years to bring the agricultural sector to where it is now, but when the public investment started to look shaky, the ministry did nothing. It hasn’t even told the nation that 80 percent of its crops have died this summer.

According to the Plantation Union, the government had been warned about the approaching drought months before it hit peak levels. The lack of action and indolence illustrates a big failure on the part of the government to manage a crisis and the country’s economy.

Time and time again the people of Mongolia have watched governments and state heads make mistake after mistake, and hide and scramble instead of acknowledging and working to rectify their faults.

State officials and ministers need to realize that public funds are not their personal property to be squandered at their whim, and that their decisions impact the lives of all the people in Mongolia.

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