Climate Damaging China’s Crops

Climate Change could trigger a 10 percent drop in China’s grain harvest over the next 20 years, threatening the country’s food security, a leading agriculture expert has warned.

Tang Huajun, deputy dean of the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences, warned crop production could fall by five to 10 percent by 2030 if climate change continues unchecked, in an interview with the official China Daily.

“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 was quoted as saying.

China, which produced 530.8 million tonnes of grain in 2009, plans to increase output to 550 million tons by 2020 to ensure food security for the world’s most populous country of more than 1.3 billion, the paper said.

The environmental watchdog Greenpeace said in a recent report that China’s food supply would be insufficient by 2030 and its overall food production could fall by 23 percent by 2050.

Tang is the chief scientist for a government project launched in September to study the impact of climate change on China’s grain production over the past 20 years at 11 research stations in the north and south of the country.

“Agriculture has been the worst hit by climate change and some negative effects have become more obvious due to rising temperatures and water shortages over the past 10 years,” Tang said.

Drought is the biggest threat to China’s grain harvest, causing an annual average loss of 15 to 25 million tonnes from 1995 to 2005, or four to eight percent of the country’s annual output, Tang said.

Other weather-related natural disasters such as floods, hailstones and typhoons have also taken a toll on grain production, he added.

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