The challenge of adapting Agribusiness to Climate Change

Climate change represents one of the greatest challenges of the 21st century for humanity.

On the one hand, gradually changing temperatures and rainfall, as well as more frequent extreme weather events, result in crop failures, livestock deaths and other asset losses.

On the other hand, agriculture is closely linked to this problem, being one of the main contributors to the climate crisis.

Fortunately, thanks to innovation, every day we find in the market more green technologies that help us to combat climate change. In today’s article you will learn how agribusinesses approach the challenge of climate change adaptation.

How does climate change affect agriculture?

Global warming is clear: the atmosphere and ocean are warmer, snow and ice volumes have decreased, sea levels have risen, and greenhouse gas concentrations have increased. Climate change is projected to increase existing climate-related risks and generate new risks to natural and human systems.

Weather disturbances caused by the climate crisis (frosts, droughts, floods, fires, etc.) will negatively affect productivity and increase the risk to the agricultural sector. It is expected that by next year the losses are over 25% in this sector due to climate change.

How does agriculture affect climate change?

Agricultural production releases a large amount of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere and produces most of the emissions of methane (through livestock and wetlands, especially rice fields) and nitrous oxide (from the use of fertilizers).

In addition, changes in land use, such as deforestation and land degradation (two devastating effects of intensive agriculture and livestock farming) emit large amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.

Agriculture, livestock and deforestation account for about one-third of global greenhouse gas emissions from human activities. Specifically: 25% of carbon emissions, 50% of methane emissions and more than 70% of nitrous oxide emissions.

Measures for agribusiness adaptation to climate change

At present, it is considered impossible to avoid the whole climate change, therefore, the adaptive capacity of society has to be increased. Adaptation options range from technological options to behavioral changes at the individual level. Governments, businesses and communities around the world must respond to their current and potential impacts.

The challenge of adaptation will be greatest for developing countries. These countries, which are highly dependent on climate-sensitive activities such as agriculture and fisheries, will need international support to adapt to this new changing environment.

The key to adapting to and combating climate change lies in evolving, resilient, holistic and safe food systems that can adapt to the environmental crisis we are facing. Adaptation strategies should be based on understanding and anticipating ecological changes, assessing the consequences and developing appropriate management responses.

Some of the climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies for agribusinesses:

  • Prioritize national and local policies, strategies, actions and investments focused on climate change adaptation and mitigation.
  • Raise consumer awareness of the benefits of a sustainable diet.
  • Providing producers with effective advisory services and developing materials and content on climate change adaptation techniques.
  • Development of a system of incentives for the most sustainable agricultural practices and those that contemplate the adoption of basic agronomic adaptation measures.
  • Promotion and support for research, development and adaptation of techniques that help in the fight against climate change..
  • Recovery of degraded lands and sustainable intensification to avoid further deforestation.
  • Implementation of technologies and practices that contribute to reducing vulnerability and/or climate emissions.
    • More efficient use of fertilizers.
    • Precision agriculture.
    • Direct seeding and evergreen agriculture.
    • Reduction of waste.
    • Irrigation design and planning based on water and energy efficiency criteria.
    • Introduction of longer-cycle, more drought-resistant and high temperature tolerant varieties and species and use of local varieties.
    • Redesign of pest and disease control systems.
    • Improved integration of innovative techniques.

Climate change is undeniable and the challenge for the agricultural sector to adapt to it is huge. Therefore, knowing and traning on sustainability in the agri-sector es essential for all businesses. In our Master in International Agribusiness Management there is module focused on sustaibleble in the agricultural sector and challenges and solutions that agribusinesses need to face.

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