Climate change could devastate South Asia, Africa crops: study

CHICAGO, Jan 31, 2008 (AFP) – Climate change will cause severe crop losses in Africa and Asia within the next 20 years unless farming practices are changed, a study released Thursday has found.

Those crop losses could lead to food shortages and a loss of livelihood among the world’s poorest people, the authors warned.

And since it typically takes 15 to 30 years to for major agricultural investments to be fully realized, work must start soon to help subsistence farmers increase their yields and switch crops, the study published in Science magazine said.

“The majority of the world’s one billion poor depend on agriculture for their livelihoods,” said lead author David Lobell of Stanford University’s Program on Food Security and the Environment.

“Unfortunately, agriculture is also the human enterprise most vulnerable to changes in climate,” he said.

“Understanding where these climate threats will be greatest, for what crops and on what time scales, will be central to our efforts at fighting hunger and poverty over the coming decades.”

Lobell and his colleagues used 20 different climate change models to determine the most likely impact of global warming on agriculture i