Jan 24, 2021

Addressing the impact of heatwaves and drought on food security


Global temperatures are rising at a rate of ~0.15-0.20°C per decade. Recent strings of record-breaking heatwaves and an increase incidence of drought, have affected crop production across the planet. As world population rises and available arable land decreases, it is imperative to address the threats imposed by climate change on food security at the regional and global scales.

The decline in crop productivity and quality is primarily due to extreme temperatures and water deficit conditions in a number of areas of the globe. Heatwaves and droughts are becoming more common and impacting regions which had not previously experienced such warm temperatures.

Regions of Asia and Sub Saharan Africa, which are largely dependent on agricultural subsistence, are projected to be worst hit by heat and drought, leading to significant crop losses. The effects on crops are complex influencing multiple developmental processes and also by speeding the browning and spoilage of fruits and vegetables post-harvest. Solutions at the global scale require the work of multidisciplinary teams and be designed to fit the conditions of multiple countries.

The purpose of the network is to build cross-disciplinary activities around these issues, to facilitate knowledge exchange and to develop projects that mitigate the effects of heatwaves and droughts on food production, supply and consumption across countries and continents. This consortium will identify research priorities, assisted by invited researchers from Low and Middle-Income Countries, by relevant industries and international funding agencies.

In our team we have researchers with expertise in crop physiology, pathology, breeding, molecular biology, agronomy, atmospheric chemistry and pollution, crop-climate modelling and food safety. This places us in a unique position to work collaboratively to develop stress-resilient crops and sustainable systems for their production, delivery and safe consumption.