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Climate crisis threatens the world's wheat supply


Not only geopolitical conflicts influence the availability of wheat. In a new paper, a research organization shows which dangers the climate crisis is increasing.

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Wheat is an important pillar of the global food supply

Photo: Julian Stratenschulte / dpa

In the coming years, the climate crisis is likely to have a significant impact on the supply of wheat to the world population.

This emerges from a new strategy paper published by the organization Wheat Initiative.

For example, it can be expected that rising temperatures will result in a noticeable drop in yields – seven percent less wheat can be expected for every degree of temperature increase.

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Because wheat is very adaptable, the grain can be grown in many parts of the world.

That is why wheat has become a pillar of the global food supply, according to the publication: Wheat accounts for 26 percent of world grain production.

The area under which this most widespread crop is cultivated was estimated at 216 million hectares in 2019.

More than 90 states produce more than 10,000 tons of wheat annually.

And the wheat problem affects world trade: in contrast to rice, which is largely consumed in the producing country, almost a quarter of global wheat production is traded internationally.

The water is running out

According to the report, the greatest challenge is the reduced availability of water. This hurdle will continue to grow: both falling groundwater levels and lower rainfall levels exacerbate the problem.

It is expected that by the end of this century, 60 percent of the world's wheat-growing regions will be affected by serious "water scarcity events".

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The use of fertilizers also affects the available quantities of wheat.

According to the paper, increased pressure is to be expected to reduce the use of fertilizers and pesticides in favor of climate and environmental protection.

Added to this are rising prices for fertilizers, which are already preventing some farmers from applying the usual amounts of fertilizer to their fields.

The Wheat Initiative was founded in 2011 on the initiative of the G20 agriculture ministers.

The organization connects wheat researchers worldwide.

According to its own statements, it wants to make a contribution to securing the cultivation.

Various scientific projects were running: In 2020, around 770 research projects on aspects such as wheat improvement were registered in Australia, Canada, China, Spain and the USA alone.

One of the research priorities is to increase the genetic diversity of wheat and improve understanding of root and soil biology.


Source: spiegel

All tech articles on 2022-07-06

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