Teleconnected food supply shocks
The 2008–2010 food crisis might have been a harbinger of fundamental climate-induced food crises with geopolitical implications. Heat-wave-induced yield losses in Russia and resulting export restrictions led to increases in market prices for wheat across the Middle East, likely contributing to the Arab Spring. With ongoing climate change, temperatures and temperature variability will rise, leading to higher uncertainty in yields for major nutritional crops. Here we investigate which countries are most vulnerable to teleconnected supply-shocks, i.e. where diets strongly rely on the import of wheat, maize, or rice, and where a large share of the population is living in poverty. We find that the Middle East is most sensitive to teleconnected supply shocks in wheat, Central America to supply shocks in maize, and Western Africa to supply shocks in rice. Weighing with poverty levels, Sub-Saharan Africa is most affected. Altogether, a simultaneous 10% reduction in exports of wheat, rice, and maize would reduce caloric intake of 55 million people living in poverty by about 5%. Export bans in major producing regions would put up to 200 million people below the poverty line at risk, 90% of which live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Our results suggest that a region-specific combination of national increases in agricultural productivity and diversification of trade partners and diets can effectively decrease future food security risks.
Published in: Environmental Research Letters, 10.1088/1748-9326/11/3/035007, IOP