10.4.1.4 Future food supply and demand
Half the world’s population is located in Asia. There are serious concerns about the prevalence of malnutrition among poorer and marginal groups, particularly rural children, and about the large number of people below the poverty line in many countries. Large uncertainties in our understanding as to how the regional climate change will impact the food supply and demand in Asia continue to prevail in spite of recent scientific advances. Because of increasing interdependency of global food system, the impact of climate change on future food supply and demand in Asia as a whole as well as in countries located in the region depends on what happens in other countries. For example, India’s surplus grain in past few years has been used to provide food aid to drought-affected Cambodia (Fischer et al., 2002). However, increasing urbanisation and population in Asia will likely result in increased food demand and reduced supply due to limited availability of cropland area and yield declines projected in most cases (Murdiyarso, 2000; Wang, 2002; Lin et al., 2004).
Food supply or ability to purchase food directly depends on income and price of the products. The global cereal prices have been projected to increase more than three-fold by the 2080s as a consequence of decline in net productivity due to projected climate change (Parry et al., 2004). Localised increases in food prices could be frequently observed. Subsistence producers growing crops, such as sorghum, millet, etc., could be at the greatest risk, both from a potential drop in productivity as well as from the danger of losing crop genetic diversity that has been preserved over generations. The risk of hunger, thus, is likely to remain very high in several developing countries with an additional 49 million, 132 million and 266 million people of Asia projected under A2 scenario without carbon fertilisation that could be at risk of hunger by 2020, 2050 and 2080, respectively (Parry et al., 2004). In terms of percent increase in risk hunger, it is projected under A2 scenario without CO2 fertilisation that an increase of 7 to 14% by 2020s, 14 to 40% by 2050s and 14 to 137% by 2080s are likely (Parry et al., 2004).
Some recent studies (PAGASA, 2001; Sukumar et al., 2003; Batima et al., 2005b) confirm TAR findings that grasslands, livestock and water resources in marginal areas of Central Asia and South-East Asia are likely to be vulnerable to climate change. Food insecurity and loss of livelihood are likely to be further exacerbated by the loss of cultivated land and nursery areas for fisheries by inundation and coastal erosion in low-lying areas of the tropical Asia. Management options, such as better stock management and more integrated agro-ecosystems could likely improve land conditions and reduce pressures arising from climate change.