The toll on Pakistan’s agricultural sector and food security because of extreme flooding is slowly “becoming apparent”, Bloomberg
reported. With fields still under water and “homes and livelihoods wiped out”, Pakistan’s government has warned that a food crisis at home is “looming”. Economists Ammar Khan and Uzair Younus estimate the direct crop loss due to flood damage at $2.3bn, the outlet reported. Damage to food supplies could make Pakistan more dependent on food commodity imports and increase pressure on global agricultural markets, Bloomberg said, pointing out that the government is already in talks with Russia to supply it with more wheat. According to the story, Pakistan faced a shortfall of 2.6m tonnes of wheat “even before the floods”. Sowing next year’s crop begins in October and “will be another challenge” for the country to surmount. “The cotton crop and vegetables are completely wiped out in many key areas,” said a trade association representative who farms wheat, maize, citrus and sugarcane, adding: “Wild weather just can’t give us a break. First the heat wave, now floods.”
ON A THREAD:
Pakistan is the world’s fifth-largest cotton producer and supplies 5% of the world’s demand, so flood damages could have ripple effects on the world’s cotton supply. Government officials estimated that about half of the country’s cotton crop has been washed away by the flood, according to a report by Pakistan’s planning ministry covered by the Express Tribune
, a Pakistani newspaper. In the district of Sindh, the “entire crop has been wiped out”, along with 70% of its rice crop. According to the story, the country’s finance minister “hinted at” allowing cotton imports from India after “textile exporters demanded 2.5m bales to meet an emergent shortfall”. In July, Sindh, “which contributes over a quarter of the country’s agricultural produce”, received over 500% more rain than average, the Third Pole
reported. “When it comes to Pakistan’s agriculture, women [account for] the majority [of the] workers. However, this monsoon has left farmers in general jobless, and women in particular,” said Rafia Gulani, an activist quoted in the piece.
FOOD AID: “
Skyrocketing” food prices are putting food “out of reach” for Pakistan’s most vulnerable, with vegetable prices shooting up by 500%, a separate Bloomberg
story said. Food price gains that are “already at a 74-year high” are expected to surge by another 30% after the floods. According to the story, the cost of “potatoes [is] climbing four times [and] tomatoes have gained 300%, while ghee, a fat used for cooking, soared 400%”. According to Pakistan’s National Disaster Management Agency, more than 727,000 cattle have died so far, leading to “a shortage of meat, milk, curd and milk products”. The loss of livestock has had livelihood impacts “in a country where “8m rural families raise cattle and 35-40% of their income last year came from livestock”, the Express Tribune
China prioritises food security
Due to climate change, extreme weather, urbanisation, changing demographics and shifting diets, China’s need for a food revolution is increasing and the seed industry would be central in it, wrote Asia business editor Leo Lewis in a column for the Financial Times
. “We will fall under others’ control if we don’t hold our rice bowl steady,” China’s president was quoted as saying. In March, a revised seeds law came into effect in China, aimed at toughening protections for crop- and plant-related intellectual property. The law was designed “to incentivise anyone breeding higher yield, climate-change-proof varieties for a Chinese market that has frustrated both foreign and domestic players for decades”, wrote Lewis.
Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine and massive economic sanctions imposed on Russia by the west, Xi again rejected the notion that world markets could be counted on to supply the country’s needs, according to an account in a state newspaper and reported by Nikkei Asia
. However, four government departments warned in August that the autumn harvest, which supplies 75% of China’s grain, is under “severe threat” due to the drought, according to the article. “Food security is clearly a priority for China’s leaders and is likely to be a prominent topic at the 20th Communist party congress later this year”, noted the outlet. It added that “new and erratic weather patterns” have led to problems with pests and diseases and a decline in biodiversity, making it harder for environments in China to adapt to climate change.
Additionally, “China’s appetite for beef is breaking records this year”, reaching 274,000 tonnes of imports, valued at a “record” of $2.65bn, reported ABC News
in Australia. Global Agritrends president Brett Stuart is quoted as saying: “I forecast that in 2023 China and Hong Kong will be the number one market for US beef, and I think it will be the number one market for the rest of my life.” He added that “citizens of China are just clamouring for beef. It’s almost like cell phones or cars, everyone wants beef”.
100 DAYS TO COP15:
Writing in the Guardian
, columnist John Vidal pointed out that “it is touch and go 100 days before COP15” in Montreal. He described the biodiversity summit as the “little brother” nature talks
and noted that it will “converge within days” of the UN climate summit, COP27. Inflation, energy crises, war and “superpower tensions” could cause “the twin engines of global environmental protection” to falter and fail, wrote Vidal, but there are “good omens” for an imperfect agreement. According to another Guardian
story, while there are still “significant divisions between the global north and south”, there are plenty of “quick wins available – invasive species eradication on islands, crackdowns on pollution, money for restoration efforts”. The official text is expected to be signed off on 17 December – the eve of the men’s football World Cup final in Qatar. As per the piece, negotiations could falter on four “fault lines: money, 30x30 (a target to protect 30% of land and sea by 2030), the monitoring of targets, and a row over digital sequence information relating to biopiracy”. Separately, Scroll.in
reported on an Indian parliamentary endorsement of a controversial biodiversity bill that excludes “codified traditional knowledge from the purview of [biodiversity] benefit claims”. Opposed by eight states, the act could deprive communities of biodiversity benefits and “defeat the purpose of the Convention on Biological Diversity”, said experts quoted in the story.
The Australian government plans to introduce new legislation
to allow conservation projects to reap credits for “projects that can deliver measurable improvements to the environment”, Bloomberg
reported. These certificates could potentially be traded “in a similar way to carbon credits”, the story said. A government inquiry had earlier found that existing biodiversity offset schemes in New South Wales were “not working and, in some cases, did more harm than good”, as reported by ABC News
. Critics have panned
the draft law and the government’s claims that it “cannot foot the bill alone
” for biodiversity, given how much Australia subsidises its fossil fuel industry. Separately, ABC News
reported that top industry bosses who cashed in on Australia’s carbon markets have “spoken up for the first time”. In a letter, they called for a change in how credits are calculated and asked for “fewer carbon credits to be handed out to companies like theirs” or it would risk the integrity of the entire market. Meanwhile, Rwandan daily the New Times
reported that biodiversity-rich Rwanda is “set to debut on the global carbon market”, with civil society networks urging “Rwanda [to] stand her ground and make better negotiations when it comes to carbon pricing”.
: In advance of COP15, Indonesia’s fisheries ministry announced plans to expand its marine protected areas to 10% of its total territorial waters by 2030, Mongabay
reported. Between 2030 and 2045, the government plans to triple its marine protected area coverage, the story said. Conservation activists welcomed the plan but cautioned that it needs to square with a recent fishing policy that “threatens the sustainability of fish stocks”. Meanwhile, scientists in collaboration with Indigenous organisations from the Amazon Basin found that “swathes of the rainforest have reached a tipping point and might never be able to recover”, the Guardian
reported. Brazil and Bolivia form “90% of all combined deforestation and degradation”, while only two out of nine rainforest nations – Suriname and French Guiana – have at least half of their forests intact. According to the story, Amazonian Indigenous groups who represent 511 nations and allies are calling for “a global pact for the permanent protection of 80% of the Amazon by 2025” – an uphill task given that “only 74% of the original forest remains”. Separately, the Associated Press
reported that two Indigenous “forest guardians” in Brazil were shot dead this week, just as activists allege
that “criminals” are on an Amazon-clearing spree ahead of next month’s presidential election, which incumbent Jair Bolsonaro is currently predicted to lose