If the now-daily incidences of extreme weather events around the world weren’t enough to convince us that climate change is getting worse, the recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives bleak confirmation.
Indeed, one of the most serious concerns is how this will affect food production. As temperatures and rainfall patterns change, food crops around the world will need to adapt to give humanity a chance of growing enough to eat.
Sadly, the bad news gets worse. Most regions are unlikely to face just one form of extreme weather. Countries such as Kenya are already dealing with extremes ranging from drought, heavy rains and unprecedented cold, all in concurrent seasons.
The unpredictability of climate change means that farmers do not simply need to adapt their agriculture to hotter temperatures. To spread their risk and breed new varieties, they will need to grow a wide range of crops that can deal with everything including heat, cold, flooding, drought and salinity, as well as new pests and diseases.
Seed diversity is, and will be, key to our food systems weathering the storms ahead, and yet the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimate that 75 percent of global crop diversity has disappeared in the decades since the so-called “Green Revolution” of the 1960s.