If climate change seemed far away, here are three reasons to reconsider. From basic daily staples to our favourite morning drink, climate change is already affecting crops in South America. The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that Latin America and the Caribbean contribute 11 percent of the value of world food production, making shifts in the region’s agricultural production relevant to global, as well as regional, food security.
1. Potato: According to the International Potato Centre (CIP), the potato is the third most widely consumed food crop in the world, with annual production approaching 300 million tons. According to a 2012 report by the 8th World Potato Congress, South American potato production reached slightly over 14 million tons in 2010. However, production in South America has come under climate-change induced stress. In 2012, the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) reported that potato production in the Andes is increasingly threatened by late blight disease, which caused the severe Irish potato famine in the 1850s. The Integrated Pest Management Program at Cornell University outlines the course of the disease: Late blight is particularly severe under warm, humid conditions. it is triggered by the ‘oomycete pathogen’, which is a microorganism that produces millions of spores from infected plants. These survive from one season to the next in infected potatoes and travel through the air causing new infections if the weather is sufficiently wet. Infected potatoes develop dark lesions on the surface and – in many cases – rot from the inside. Read More »