Agriculture and Rural Development Day

Thea Whitman

I had the chance to attend the side conference, “Agriculture and Rural Development Day” on Saturday. At one presentation, I came across an interesting puzzle. You might have asked yourselves the question, “If climate change depresses crop yields in the rest of the world due to climate change, could expanding food production in Canada make up much of the slack?” The International Food Policy Research Institute has investigated this interesting question using their climate change and food security models. If you’re hoping that we’ll have higher yields, you’re likely out of luck – only one out of four scenarios* they looked at predicted higher yields, increasing by just 5%. What about increasing the area over which we grow crops? Even though temperatures may increase, poor soil quality would likely substantially constrain yields. Ultimately, it looks like Canada could produce 7.9% more to 12.9% less cereal under the changing climate scenarios they considered. Furthermore, even if the most optimistic number is used, predicted decreases in the rest of the world mean that increases in Canada and the Ukraine (which could see a maximum of a 6% increase) would offset these losses by only 10%.

*For those climate model fiends out there, using the MIROC and CSIRO global circulation model results with the A1B and B2 scenarios


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