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‘Food Shocks’ Increase Over Last Five Decades

The report said trade-dependent countries must find ways to store food in preparation for inevitable shocks elsewhere.

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Food Shocks
'Food Shocks' Increase Over Last Five Decades

Food shocks, or sudden losses of crops, livestock or fish, due to the combination extreme weather conditions and geopolitical events like war, increased from 1961 to 2013, said researchers at The University of Tasmania in a report released Monday.

Researchers saw a steady increase in shock frequency over each decade with no declines.

The report, published in Nature Sustainability, said that protective measures are needed to avoid future disasters.

The authors studied 226 shocks across 134 countries over the last 53 years and, unlike previous reports, examined the connection between shocks and land-based agriculture and sea-based aquaculture.

“There seems to be this increasing trend in volatility,” said lead author Richard Cottrell, a PhD candidate in quantitative marine science at the University of Tasmania in Australia. “We do need to stop and think about this.”

Extreme weather events are expected to worsen over time because of climate change, the report said, and when countries already struggling to feed their populations experience conflict, the risk of mass-hunger increases.

FILE - A farmer harvests wheat in a field in Jdeidet Artouz, a suburb southwest of Damascus, Syria, June 19, 2017.
FILE – A farmer harvests wheat in a field in Jdeidet Artouz, a suburb southwest of Damascus, Syria, June 19, 2017.

The researchers found that about one quarter of food resources are accessed through trade, and many countries could not feed their populations without imports, making them particularly vulnerable to food shocks of trading partners.

As the frequency of shocks continues to increase, it leaves what Cottrell called “narrowing windows” between shocks, making it nearly impossible to recover and prepare for the next one.

The report said trade-dependent countries must find ways to store food in preparation for inevitable shocks elsewhere.

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The researchers found that about one quarter of food resources are accessed through trade, and many countries could not feed their populations without imports, making them particularly vulnerable to food shocks of trading partners. Pixabay

Countries must invest in “climate-smart” practices like diversifying plant and animal breeds and varieties and enhance soil quality to speed recovery following floods and droughts, the report said.

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“We need to start changing the way we produce food for resiliency,” Cottrell said, adding that he had yet to see much action being taken by wealthy food-producing countries. “Because we are going to see a problem.”

The report was released the same day the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reported findings on conflict and hunger.

That report stated that around 56 million people across eight conflict zones are in need of immediate food and livelihood assistance. (VOA)

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IIT And IIS Collaborate To Develop Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment For The Indian Himalayan Region

"Being situated in the Himalayan region, IIT-Mandi is proud to be a part of this vulnerability assessment exercise and a leader in technology in this region."

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himalaya
The 12 states are Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, hilly districts of West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir. Pixabay

The Indian Institute of Technology-Guwahati, Indian Institute of Technology-Mandi and Indian Institute of Science Bengaluru have collaborated to develop a climate change vulnerability assessment for the Indian Himalayan region using a common framework, it was announced on Thursday.

The assessment exercise is unique because for the first time all 12 Himalayan states have used a common framework resulting in the production of comparable state-level and within state, district-level vulnerability maps.

Such comparable vulnerability assessments are useful for the governments, implementers, decision makers, funding agencies and development experts to gain a common understanding on vulnerability, enabling them to assess which state is more vulnerable, what has made them vulnerable and how they might address these vulnerabilities.

Himalaya
“The adaptation to climate change is a collaborative effort between appropriate use of technology, a vision that produces policies, a change at ground level and engaging the local communities.” Pixabay

The framework and the results were presented here at a national workshop on ‘Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment for States and the Union Territories Using a Common Framework’ organised by IIT-Guwahati and IIT-Mandi with support from IISc Bengaluru, the Department of Science and Technology and Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation.

The 12 states are Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, hilly districts of West Bengal, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

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Such comparable vulnerability assessments are useful for the governments, implementers, decision makers, funding agencies and development experts to gain a common understanding on vulnerability, enabling them to assess which state is more vulnerable, what has made them vulnerable and how they might address these vulnerabilities. Pixabay

Highlighting impact of the project, Ashutosh Sharma, Secretary, Department of Science and Technology, said: “The adaptation to climate change is a collaborative effort between appropriate use of technology, a vision that produces policies, a change at ground level and engaging the local communities.”

“These vulnerability maps will play a crucial role in this effort.”

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Timothy A. Gonsalves, Director IIT-Mandi, said: “Being situated in the Himalayan region, IIT-Mandi is proud to be a part of this vulnerability assessment exercise and a leader in technology in this region.”

Deputy Head of Mission of the Swiss Embassy Tamara Mona said: “Switzerland, like India, has a long experience in facing the potential opportunities and risks. Swiss national policy for climate change adaptation has been complemented by local government strategies, based on detailed and locally anchored risks assessment, maps and preparedness, plans and actions.” (IANS)