Crop changes

Climate change is beginning to transform our life on Earth. Increases in global mean temperature, despite its harmful impacts, may actually benefit some plants by lengthening growing seasons and heighten carbon dioxide. Yet other effects of warmer world, such as more pesticides, draughts, and flooding will be less benign.

Using an aggressive climate model, researchers at the International Food Policy Research Institute forecast that by 2050, suitable cropland for four top crops – corn, potatoes, rice, and wheat – will shift pushing farmers to plant new ones.

These changes will affect lots of regions around the world. In North America, for example, there will be a 20 percent drop in corn production, yet the region will remain a global supplier. In South America, many crops will suffer in Brazil, and corn farmers will also see crops decline. While potato farmers in Northern Europe will see longer growing seasons, fields in the south will become increasingly dry.

Africa, Asia and Indonesia will be also affected by the climate change. Whereas some areas will get drier or get more precipitation, others may actually get a bit milder and suitable for growing certain crops. In West Africa, rich soil and abundant water may support more rice, and parts of East Africa are believed to have great potential to expand production.

Changes in Asia will affect the most people due to the major losses of croplands in India and China. However, rice production in Indonesia will be largely spared by climate change, and new parts of Australia will become arable.