Available data shows us that an increased occurrence and intensity of disasters is the new normal

By: Trademagazin Date: 2021. 03. 24. 10:52

One of the most direct ways disasters affect agriculture is through lower-than-expected production. This causes direct economic loss to farmers which can cascade along the entire value chain – even affecting the growth of the sector or entire national economies.

From 2008–2018, billions of dollars were lost as a result of declines in crop and livestock production in the aftermath of disasters.

  • USD 30 billion was lost in sub-Saharan and North Africa
  • USD 29 billion was lost in Latin America and the Caribbean
  • USD 8.7 billion was lost across the Small Island Developing States (SIDS) in the Caribbean
  • USD 49 billion was lost in Asia


Which disasters strike with the greatest impact and where?

Effective Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) policies can help to counter the economic and food security impacts of disasters as well as safeguard people’s livelihoods. But creating and implementing effective policies involves knowing which disasters strike with the greatest impact and where.

Here are the top five most impactful disasters (in terms of their toll on agricultural production systems) to strike least developed countries (LDCs) and low to middle income countries (LMICs) from 2008-2018.

Drought

Drought has been established as the single greatest culprit of agricultural production loss. Over 34 percent of crop and livestock production loss in LDCs and LMICs is traced to drought, costing the sector USD 37 billion overall.

Drought impacts agriculture almost exclusively; it sustains 82 percent of all drought impact, compared to 18 percent in all other sectors.

Audio from the field

record_voice_overFarmer Lucas, Pakistan

record_voice_overPhilemon Madube, Livestock Farmer, Chivi district in Masvingo Province – Zimbabwe


Floods

Floods are the second gravest disaster for the sector, responsible for a total of USD 21 billion of the crop and livestock production loss accrued between 2008-2018 in LDCs and LMICs – this amounts to 19 percent of total loss.

Audio from the field

record_voice_overFarmer Mr Khoybor, Kurigram district, Bangladesh


Storms

Storms are nearly as destructive as floods for the agriculture sector. This is particularly due to the 2017 Atlantic hurricane season, which was the costliest and most hyperactive tropical cyclone season on record.

Between 2008–2018, extreme storms such as tropical hurricanes have caused more than USD 19 billion in crop and livestock production loss accounting for over 18 percent of overall loss.

Audio from the field

record_voice_overFarmer Martine Acao, Haiti

record_voice_overFish vendor Inesse Seide-also President of AMPOS (Association de Marchandes de Poissons de Port Salut), Haiti


Crop and livestock pests, diseases and infestations

Crop and livestock pests, diseases and infestations are an important stressor for the sector. Such biological disasters caused 9 percent of all crop and livestock production loss in the period from 2008 to 2018.

The 2020 desert locust crisis in East Africa will likely exacerbate the role of biological disasters in production disruption, as the region braces itself for significantly reduced crop harvests and major pasture loss in arid and semi-arid regions.

Audio from the field

record_voice_overFarmer Esther Kithuka, Kenya


Wildfires

Wildfires appear to be less impactful to agricultural production systems, responsible for just over USD 1 billion or 1 percent of loss.

This accounts for only the damage caused to crop and livestock production, it does not incorporate loss incurred in the forestry sector, in terms of timber and other systems. The impact of ravaging wildfires scorching through millions of acres across California (2017), Greece (2018), the Amazon (2019), and Australia (2019/2020), to name a few, is likely to be enormous.


Disasters can affect our nutrition too

We’ve seen how disasters can impact agriculture on a food production and economic level. Yet, the fallout from disasters and extreme events are more extensive and complex than the impacts on productivity alone. Disaster-related production losses can translate into significant – and negative – nutritional outcomes including foregone calories and nutrients.

Here’s how many calories and nutrients were potentially lost following disasters.


Calories

linkFIGURE 10

Disaster-induced production loss equivalent, expressed in average daily dietary energy supply per capita, 2008–2018

Africa

0

Calories per capita per day

= 20% RDA

womenmen

LAC

0

Calories per capita per day

= 40% RDA

womenmen

Asia

0

Calories per capita per day

= 11% RDA

womenmen

SOURCE: FAO

Between 2008 and 2018, the crop and livestock production loss in least developed countries (LDCs) and low to middle income countries (LMICs) converts to a total of 6.9 trillion lost kilocalories per year. *

In other words, that’s the annual calorie intake of 7 million adults (based on a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) of 2 500 calories per day).


Iron *

linkFIGURE 11

Disaster-induced production loss equivalent, expressed in average daily iron supply per capita, 2008–2018

Africa

0 mg

Iron per capita per day

150% RDA

women

250% RDA

men

LAC

0 mg

Iron per capita per day

180% RDA

women

300% RDA

men

Asia

11 mg

Iron per capita per day

73% RDA

women

120% RDA

men

SOURCE: FAO

Crop and livestock production loss in least developed countries (LDCs) and low to middle income countries (LMICs) in 2008-2018 converts to a loss of 994 trillion mg of iron – an average of 256 billion mg per year.

That amount is the annual recommended iron intake of 78 million adult men or 47 million adult women (based on an RDA of 9 mg of iron per day for adult men and 15 mg for adult women).


Zinc *

linkFIGURE 12

Disaster-induced production loss equivalent, expressed in average daily zinc supply per capita, 2008–2018

Africa

0 mg

Zinc per capita per day

150% RDA

women

110% RDA

men

LAC

0 mg

Zinc per capita per day

190% RDA

women

130% RDA

men

Asia

0 mg

Xinc per capita per day

75% RDA

women

54% RDA

men

SOURCE: FAO

Agriculture production loss in least developed countries (LDCs) and low to middle income countries (LMICs) from 2008-2018 converts to 21 trillion mg of zinc lost (or an average of 177 billion mg per year). Or in other words, that is the annual recommended zinc intake of 50 million adult women or 36 million adult men. The RDA of zinc is 11 mg per day for adult men and 8 mg for adult women.


Calcium *

linkFIGURE 13

Disaster-induced production loss equivalent, expressed in average daily calcium supply per capita, 2008–2018

Africa

0

Calcium per capita per day

= 30% RDA

womenmen

LAC

0

Calcium per capita per day

= 40% RDA

womenmen

Asia

0

Calcium per capita per day

= 14% RDA

womenmen

SOURCE: FAO

In least developed countries (LDCs) and low to middle income countries (LMICs) from 2008-2018, crop and livestock production loss caused by disasters converts to a total of 494 trillion mg of calcium lost.

Based on an RDA of 1 000 mg per day for both adult men and women, that is the annual recommended calcium intake of 9 million people.


Vitamin A *

linkFIGURE 14

Disaster-induced production loss equivalent, expressed in average daily vitamin A supply per capita, 2008–2018

Africa

0 mg

Vitamin A per capita per day

95% RDA

women

74% RDA

men

LAC

0 mg

Vitamin A per capita per day

99.9% RDA

women

77% RDA

men

Asia

0 mg

Vitamin A per capita per day

44% RDA

women

34% RDA

men

SOURCE: FAO

Agricultural production loss in least developed countries (LDCs) and low to middle income countries (LMICs) between 2008–2018 converts to a total of 994 trillion micrograms (mcg) of lost vitamin A. That’s an average of 7 trillion mcg every year.

This corresponds to 21 million adult men or 27 million adult women going without their annual recommended vitamin A intake. The RDA of vitamin A is 900 micrograms per day for adult men and 700 micrograms for adult women.

* FAO analysis using data from FAOSTAT, EM-DAT CRED and USDA.


The time to act is now

Disasters are nothing new – not to farmers, nor to the rest of us who rely on them for our collective food security. But the imperative of changing how we manage disasters, at this moment in human history, is existentially pressing.

To be effective, national strategies on disaster risk reduction (DDR), emergency response, resilience and climate change adaptation must be firmly grounded in a comprehensive understanding of the particular impact disasters have on agriculture, including:

  • Identifying damage and loss patterns.
  • Providing breakdowns of impacts for crops, livestock, forestry, fisheries and aquaculture.
  • Building profiles of all types of disasters: from rapid-onset large-scale catastrophes like hurricanes, to events that develop slowly over time like droughts; as well as small-scale localized or ‘silent’ disasters, which are often unreported but can be detrimental to livelihoods of small-scale farmers.
  • Expanding beyond the impacts of natural hazard-related disasters to consider wider threats, such as pandemics, food chain crises, conflicts and protracted crises.
  • Navigating the nexus of disaster assessment, risk reduction and climate change adaptation.

Want to know more?

The full report, The impact of disasters and crises on agriculture and food security 2021, offers deep insights into how disasters are affecting agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture, forestry, and more. It offers policy makers useful recommendations on how to create agricultural systems that are resilient to disasters, diseases, and climate change.

SOFA

DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT

 

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