Climate Change ‘Takes Toll’ on Grain Harvest

China Daily carries a warning of serious and sustained decline in China’s grain production:

Tang Huajun, deputy dean of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), said a 5 to 10 percent crop loss is foreseeable by 2030 if climate change continues.

“The impact of climate change, coupled with arable land loss and water shortages, will cause a bigger grain production fluctuation and pose a threat to reaching output targets,” Tang told China Daily.

China, which recorded a grain output of 530.8 million tons in 2009, plans to increase output to 550 million tons by 2020 to ensure grain security for the world’s most populous country.

However, China is likely to face an inadequate food supply by 2030 and its overall food production could fall by 23 percent by 2050, a previous report released by Greenpeace predicted.

“The output of the country’s three main foods, rice, wheat and corn may suffer a 37 percent decline in the latter part of this century if the government fails to take effective measures to address the impact of climate change,” Tang said.

Tang’s nomination of drought as the biggest challenge to Chinese farming echoes earlier findings by the CASS reported in March:

According to statistics from the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences (CAAS), the average annual crop losses due to drought in China were 75.7 billion yuan ($11.1 billion) from 1988 to 2004, while annual losses due to flood were 51.1 billion yuan.

“Drought has become the greatest disaster facing China’s agriculture,” said Lin Erda, a professor with CAAS.

A recently featured article from Beijing Review celebrated China’s escape from feared shortages after a year beset by natural disasters, but expressed similar concern about long-term food security.

See also: the 2008 Greenpeace report referred to in both China Daily articles.

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