Climate Change will Complement Food Security Management

Chief Executive Officer

According to UN World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the United States or other food-exporting countries could trigger a major hunger crisis next year. The US, which has experienced record heat-waves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year. Supplies are now very tight across the world and reserves are at a very low level, leaving no room for unexpected events next year.

The recent Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) figures suggest that 870 million people are malnourished and the food crisis is growing in the Middle East and Africa. Lack of access to adequate food is closely linked to poverty. War, disease, environmental degradation and a host of other issues limit people’s access to enough nourishment to live a healthy life. The vast majority of the hungry, 852 million, live in developing countries — around 15 percent of their population — while 16 million people are undernourished in developed countries.

The worst drought in half a century in the United States, which is the world’s major corn (maize) producer, triggered a price rally that saw US corn futures set a record at $8.49 a bushel in August 2012, before easing to trade so far this month between $7 and $7.50. It is expected it can go up to $9 a Bushel. 2012 had been the year where climate change has become a threat for global food supply. It is likely that price and yield volatility will continue to rise as extreme weather continues, further hurting livelihoods and putting food security at risk. We can no longer look at food security, poverty and climate change separately. Climate-Smart Agriculture is a driver for green growth.

There are opportunities to reduce agricultural greenhouse gas emissions and increase soil carbon sequestration while still helping meet food security objectives. For example, improving the efficiency and productivity of agricultural systems through better management practices and techniques can go a long way to reducing emissions. This can also help build the resilience of these systems to meet the increasing demand for food in a sustainable manner.

For the GCC states the wakeup call for food security was the 2007-2008 global food price crises. GCC states had never had an important domestic agricultural industry to begin with. GCC are classified by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation as suffering from absolute water scarcity. As a result, water reserves are becoming saline and depleted. Agriculture, which generally uses groundwater, uses a lion’s share of total conventional water use. Securing access to safe drinking water for all and wisely managing our limited freshwater resources are therefore high priorities on the sustainable development agenda.GCC states are recently taking a systematic look at food security.

In April 2011 Qatar National Food Security Programme (QNFSP) and US Agency for International Development (USAID) signed an MOU which will be a framework to combat world hunger and to enhance global food security. Recently Qatar is also making efforts to reduce reliance on food imports by improving production in Qatar’s farms.

Food consumption in GCC will reach 51.5 million tonnes by 2015 and Food consumption in Qatar is projected to grow at 6.3 percent during 2011–15. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), population in the GCC region is likely to increase further and cross the 50 million-mark by 2020 from the current level of 40.6 million. When it comes to food sufficiency, due to water shortage and lack of arable land, the GCC countries need to import almost 90 percent of their food requirements. Due to high dependence on imports, the region is also susceptible to external food price shocks.

Some of the measures to improve food security include Integrating food security and sustainable agriculture into both global and national policies, raising the level of agricultural investment, sustainably increasing agricultural production while reducing the environmental impact and establishing “comprehensive, shared and integrated information systems to track changes in land use, food production and climate change. Climate Change will complement food security management.