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Crop loss and global climate change

Global hunger and how to deal with it has always been a major topic for discussion among world leaders and experts. The War in Ukraine has pushed this issue forward even more due to the exit of the Russian Government from the deal to transport Ukrainian crops to the poor African countries devastated by hunger.

It has already been predicted that just one month of this war would cause a whole year of turmoil in the industry with food prices constantly on the rise all over the planet. However, the logistical and political problems are not the only ones contributing to the food crisis, Crop loss is another one.

The WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) has recently published a report on post-harvest loss. There it stated that approximately 1.3 billion tons of food, or 15% of all the produce, is lost around the world during the harvest season. If this food could instead reach the hungry people, no one would’ve probably starved.

The study shows that one of the reasons for crop loss in countries like the US is the absence of necessary up-to-date equipment and combine operators among the smaller farms, whose owners simply can’t afford it due to the rising prices. In the more developed states, this can be partially solved by introducing sharing schemes and investing more in agriculture.

However, this is hardly applicable to farmers from third countries. Not only is it highly unlikely that their governments have enough funds to cover the agricultural needs but even if they do, they’ve got another problem to deal with. And this problem is climate change.

Despite the WWF report stating that the average loss is around 15%, in some places it can be as high as 90%. For instance, in Iraq, climate change and the water crisis have led to a two-year drought, which in turn makes a lot of land infertile. According to the NRC report, every second farming family had to ask for help due to the decline of complete loss of their wheat, vegetable, and fruit harvests.

It’s hard to imagine Pakistani culinary culture without chili, yet this might change very soon. The increasing temperatures and the flooding that happened in the region in August and September made the farmers there lose a great part of their chili crops. The plants that are used to being grown under much milder conditions simply can’t overcome the extreme weather conditions.

The grain crops were significantly damaged in West Australia while the region suffered from an unprecedented amount of hail and rain. The local farmers stated that they are already accustomed to storms happening there quite often but not to such intense ones.

These are just a few of the crop loss cases happening around the world in the ultimate years due mainly to climate change, and something has to be done to diminish it. Bangladesh farmers, for example, revived a traditional practice of growing crops on floating rafts to avoid damage caused by storms and the rising sea level. The Chinese, on the contrary, turned to the more modern solutions as they started sending seeds to space.

Scientists believe that crops grown under extreme weather conditions outside of the planet’s magnetic shield will be better accustomed to the changing climate on Earth. The Glasgow-based startup Seawater Solutions has also provided a new way to help farmland suffering from drought and the absence of fresh clean water. They’ve started growing food in saltwater instead.

There is a hope that the problem of crop loss will be solved eventually if governments, corporations, and farming experts around the world put enough effort into it. However, we shouldn’t forget about other food-related issues. Even if the farmers manage to deliver all of their harvested food to the population, a lot of it ends up uneaten and thrown away.

The polluted water and air also often make the products less nutritious which in turn can cause a whole new bunch of health problems. It is obvious that no matter how developed the world seems to be nowadays, hunger and food crises will still be present here for a very long time.

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