Vegetable supply in the world could decline by a third in the next 20 years if urgent action is not taken to battle climate change.
According to a new study by London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, average yields of crops such as soy beans and lentils might fall as a result of increased temperatures and water shortages.
The Institution’s lead scientist Dr Pauline Scheelbeek says “Environmental changes such as increased temperature and water scarcity pose a real threat to global agricultural production with possible further impacts on food security and population health.”
Vegetables and legumes are vital components of a healthy, balanced and maintainable diet and nutritional guidelines and health experts usually advise people to incorporate more vegetables and legumes into their nutrition.
“Our new analysis suggests, however, that this guidance conflicts with the potential impacts of environmental changes that will decrease the availability of these important crops unless action is taken.” notes Dr. Scheelbeek
Preceding studies had indicated that crop harvests could be increased by raised levels of carbon dioxide greenhouse gas in the atmosphere. But the new study, based on a methodical assessment of validations dating back to 1975 shows this advantage is likely to be annulled by other environmental effects.
Academics estimated the future impact of key factors influencing crop production, including increased levels of greenhouse gases, reduced obtainability of water for irrigation and rising temperatures. They predicted that global average harvests of vegetables and legumes such as soy beans and lentils are anticipated to be reduced by 40% and 10% correspondingly.
New crop varieties and improvements in agriculture and mechanization are urgently needed to protect vegetable supplies, said the team writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The analysis suggests that if we take a ‘business as usual’ approach, environmental changes will substantially reduce the global availability of these important foods.
Imperative action needs to be taken, including working to support the farming sector to increase its flexibility to environmental variations and this must be a primacy for governments across the globe.