Food security at risk as drought frequency surges, says association head
Rising global temperatures and the expected increase in the frequency of droughts from every 10 years to every five years pose a grave threat to food security in the world, the head of the International Association of Operative Millers (IAOM) Eurasia warned on Nov. 12.
Every increase of 1 degree Celsius in global temperature slashes yields of wheat by 6 percent, rice by 3.2 percent, and corn by 7.4 percent, Eren Günhan Ulusoy said at the Turkey Grain Congress held in the Mediterranean resort city Antalya.
“An increase of 2 degrees Celsius will put some 84 million more people at risk of hunger by 2050,” he said.
He explained that the wheat cultivation area in Turkey had fallen below 7 million hectares by last year, from 9.4 million hectares in 2001.
The same situation will continue next year, Ulusoy said, adding that Turkey has taken measures such as boosting stocks to support the grain sector.
He pointed out that increased transportation and energy costs around the world, coupled with higher demand for grain products and monetary expansion, led to a spike in prices.
“The [UN] Food and Agriculture Organization’s grain index hit an eight-year high as a result,” he said.
Turkish grain sector making strides
Bekir Pakdemirli, Turkey’s agriculture and forestry minister, said the country’s grain sector has been able to boost its productivity thanks to enhanced research and the government’s development initiatives.
“In the past decade, our wheat production has gone up by 40 percent. Corn and rice production was at 6.5 million tons and 1 million ton last year, which are record levels for Turkey,” he said.
Turkey’s grain sector pushed up its overall production by 3 percent to 37 million tons in 2020, he added.
On the future global scenario, Pakdemirli said the world’s need for food and water will increase by 60 percent and 15 percent, respectively, by 2050.
Flour and pasta are the two “export champions” of Turkey’s grain sector, according to Ulusoy.
While flour has been the sector’s top export for the past seven years, Turkey has also gradually become the largest exporter of pasta after Italy, he said.
Hailing the pasta industry as a “rising star of Turkey,” he said the country’s pasta exports have jumped by 80 percent in just five years and stood at $762 million last year.