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January 18th, 2016

Food security under climate change

Published by Nature Climate Change,

In this article in Nature Climate Change Hertel argues that using food prices to assess climate change impacts on food security is misleading. Since climate changes has different impacts on income a broader measure of household well-being, like changes in absolute poverty, is needed. Household food consumption depends on the balance between prices and income. Many farmers and farm workers benefit from higher food prices through better sales, more jobs or higher wages, as long as they sell more than they buy. In countries where poverty is concentrated among agricultural households, such as Bangladesh or Uganda, higher food prices should lead to improved incomes and food security for the poor. However, not all poor households will benefit – neither now, nor in the future. Climate change will most likely drive down agricultural production and drive up food prices. Many poor rural households will paradoxically boost their food security as climate change advances, as they gain more from price rises and trade advantages than they lose from falling production. But urban households will tend to suffer. Hertel thus concludes that projecting the future of food security under climate change requires much more attention to future trends in the distribution of poverty – for example between rural and urban areas, women and men, employees and self-employed farmers – to complement our recent focus on future agricultural production. As people become more urban and agriculture more commercial, food price rises will increasingly disadvantage more people than they benefit, yet the deepest poverty may well remain in rural areas, and here higher food prices can be an effective engine for raising incomes.

This article of CGIAR on the article provides more related readings and background.

Curated from nature.com