“We could be the last Latin American and Caribbean generation living together with hunger.”
The assertion, made by Raúl Benítez, a regional officer for the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), shows one side of the coin: only 4.6 percent of the region’s population is undernourished, according to the latest figures.
By 2030, however, most of the countries in the region will face a serious risk situation due to climate change.
With almost 600 million inhabitants, Latin America and the Caribbean has a third of the world’s fresh water and more than a quarter of its medium to high potential farmland, points out a book published this year by the Inter-American Development Bank in partnership with Global Harvest Initiative, a private-sector think-tank.
It is the largest net food-exporting region, while it uses just a fraction of its agricultural potential for both consuming and exporting.
But almost a quarter of the region’s rural people still live on less than two dollars a day, and the region is prone to disasters (earthquakes, hurricanes, floods and droughts), some of them exacerbated by climate change.
Global warming poses serious challenges to the international community’s goal of eradicating poverty and hunger. Changes in rainfall patterns, soils and temperatures are already stressing agricultural systems.
Currently, more than 800 million people worldwide are at risk of hunger. Through its devastating impact on crops and livelihoods, climate change is predicted to increase that number by as much as 20 percent by 2050, according to a recent United Nations report.
Changes in temperature and rainfall patterns could lead to food price rises of between three percent and 84 percent by 2050, thereby feeding a vicious cycle of poverty and inequality.
Oxfam reports that in the more extreme scenarios, heat and water stress could reduce crop yields by 25 percent between 2030 and 2049.
Climate change is likely to impact mostly small and family farmers, who produce more than half the food in the region and have inadequate resources with which to deal with unpredictable weather.
Despite this looming threat, strategies for sustainability are far from clear. Regional drivers of growth are export-oriented commodities, and while some sectors have advanced in added value, technology and innovation, natural resources exploitation is still the key of the whole regional boom.
For the complete article, pleas see IPS.