Natural Disasters Responsible For €3.6T Worth Of Agricultural Losses In Last 30 Years

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News in brief: The FAO reports that natural disasters’ frequency has quadrupled since the 1970s, resulting in around €3.6 trillion in agricultural losses over the past 30 years, with droughts responsible for almost half of these losses. It is calling for proactive measures to enhance resilience and reduce vulnerability to erratic weather patterns.

A new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) says that the frequency of natural disasters has quadrupled since the 1970s, and that these disasters have caused an estimated €3.6 trillion in agricultural losses over the past 30 years.

The report, titled The Impact of Disasters on Agriculture and Food Security, is the first-ever global estimation of the impact of disasters on agricultural production focused on crops and livestock.

It found that droughts are responsible for almost half of the earlier-mentioned losses, but floods, storms, pests, and health crises are also having an increasing impact.

Additionally, the report notes that the estimated €3.6 trillion loss may even be higher if systematic data on losses in the fisheries and aquaculture and forestry subsectors were available. It stresses the need for urgently improving data and information on the impact of disasters on all subsectors of agriculture to create data systems because it can serve as the foundation upon which effective action can be built and informed.

Experts say the report’s findings are alarming, but they are not unexpected. Climate change is already having a significant impact on the frequency and intensity of natural disasters. They predict that the trend is only expected to continue in the years to come because of current agriculture’s practices vulnerability to erratic weather patterns.

In a shortened brief of the report that contains key messages, the FAO stressed that severity of natural disasters increased from 100 a year in the 1970s to about 400 annually in the past 20 years.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu, in the foreword to the report, explained that the sector is dependent on natural resources and climate conditions, which is why unwaneted changes affect it adversely. “Recurrent disasters have the potential to erode gains in food security and undermine the sustainability of agrifood systems,” he further said.

A breakdown summary by Euronews further showed that cereals saw the most losses due to natural disasters at nearly 60 million tonnes annually, followed by fruits and vegetables and sugar crops at almost 40 million tonnes. Livestock-related products like meats, dairy and eggs were lesser than crops losses at about 16 million tonnes per year.

Thus, the organisation is calling for proactive and timely interventions that can build resilience and reduce agriculture’s esposure to natural disasters.

Joseph Akahome
Joseph Akahome
Joseph O Akahome (OJ) is a writer, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Literature from the University of Benin. He is an avid agriculturist, with a bias for poultry and an insatiable appetite for chicken wings. When he is neither reading nor researching, he likes to spend recreational time playing board games, or swimming in serene forested lakes.

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