Food prices could triple with climate change: Report

By Caroline Scott-Thomas

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Climate change Agriculture

Food prices could more than triple by 2050 as the climate changes, according to a new report from the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The report, Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation​, was developed for inclusion in two reports for the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, both of which were released yesterday in conjunction with climate change meetings in Bangkok.

Even without climate change, IFPRI said that food prices would still be expected to rise, by 40 per cent for wheat, and 60 per cent for both rice and maize by 2050, as the world population grows.

However, by drawing on climate models and crop models projecting changes in production, trade and consumption of the world’s major crops, IFPRI predicts a much worse scenario. It forecasts wheat prices to rise 170 to 194 per cent, rice prices 113 to 121 per cent, and maize to go up 148 to 153 per cent.

In addition, the report predicts that per capita calorie availability in the developing world will decline from 2000 levels, causing a 20 per cent increase in child malnutrition by 2050, compared to a world without climate change.

Co-author of the report and director of IFPRI’s environment and production technology division Mark Rosegrant said: “Agriculture is extremely vulnerable to climate change, because farming is so weather-dependent. Small-scale farmers in developing countries will suffer the most. However, our study finds that this scenario of lower yields, higher prices, and increased child malnutrition can be avoided.”

The report claims that investment of about US$7bn a year (about €4.8bn) could avert these problems by bringing new technologies to farmers and educating them about how they can adapt, as well as developing agricultural research, better irrigation and rural roads.

The full IFPRI report is available to download here​.

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