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Discuss the consequences of Climate Change on food security in tropical countries. | UPSC 2023 General Studies Paper 1 Mains PYQ


Discuss the consequences of Climate Change on food security in tropical countries.

(UPSC 2023 General Studies Paper 1 (Main) Exam, Answer in 150 words)


Tropical countries are those countries which are located between 30 degrees north and 30 degrees south latitudes. India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, South East Asian Countries, and most of the African and South American countries come in categories of tropical countries. 

Poverty, malnutrition, and food insecurity are already major concerns in tropical countries. Climate change ( led by global warming) is further increasing such problems as it is disrupting existing weather patterns, impacting agricultural productivity, food availability, and the livelihoods of vulnerable communities. 

As far as the Consequences of Climate change on food security in tropical countries are concerned,  the following are the major consequences-

Shifts in Agricultural Productivity and Crop Suitability:

Climate changes lead to changes in temperature and precipitation patterns which alter crop yields. Some areas experience decreased productivity due to heat stress, water scarcity, or increased frequency of extreme weather events ( drought, cyclones, floods).

For example, 

As per an estimate, the Overall crop productivity of India declined by approximately 5 % in the last 15 years.

In the year 2022, heat waves decreased wheat productivity in India.

Due to global warming and climate changes, the pressure and temperature belt of the earth is moving to the northern side of the northern hemisphere, and traditional crop combinations and suitability are becoming less effective.

For example, due to climate changes, cooler regions and highly elevated regions are now becoming suitable for paddy crops, which was traditionally not suitable.

Spread of Pests and Diseases:

Warmer temperatures and changing precipitation patterns create favorable conditions for the proliferation of pests, which poses new challenges for farmers. For Example, From 2018 to 2022, Locust attacks in Pakistan and Western India damaged crops by up to 30 %.

Water Scarcity and Irrigation Challenges:

Extreme weather-related events like drought lead to water scarcity and reduce the water availability for crops. For example, Western India and most of the region of Africa are facing a scarcity of water resources.

Salinity Intrusion by rising sea level:

Rising sea levels lead to salinity intrusion in coastal areas, affecting the fertility of soils and making it challenging to cultivate crops, especially Paddy crops.

Crop Damage due to Cyclones and Hurricanes:

Tropical coastal regions are prone to cyclones, which cause extensive damage to food production and supply chains. 

Transportation Disruptions:

Extreme weather events due to climate change disrupt transportation networks, affecting the distribution of food and increasing the risk of food shortages. 

In summary,

Communities in tropical countries are already grappling with poverty, inadequate infrastructure, and limited access to resources, climate changes increase the existing vulnerabilities.

Addressing the consequences of climate change on food security requires a faceted approach, including sustainable agricultural practices, climate-smart agriculture, agroforestry, smart water harvesting technology, and international cooperation to mitigate the broader impacts of a changing climate.

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