Farmers are used to annual variations in the weather, but climate change has introduced serious and unpredictable shifts in weather patterns. Crops — and farmers — find themselves at the mercy of prolonged dry spells, higher temperatures, more frequent storms or prolonged periods of rainfall. How can they adapt to ensure the longevity of their farm, and their future?

A new WRI paper, entitled "Food Systems at Risk: Transformative Adaptation for Long-Term Food Security," examines the challenges farmers, herders and other agricultural communities face across the globe, explores their responses, and asks what can be done to help them now and as the situation worsens.

In this podcast we hear from two of the report’s authors, Rebecca Carter and Tyler Ferdinand, as well as a Costa Rican coffee farmer who began cultivating citrus — in addition to coffee — when warmer temperatures and more unpredictable rainfall made it difficult to grow coffee in areas of the country. 


Rebecca Carter, Deputy Director, Climate Resilience Practice

“It’s not enough to just show up and give a farmer new seeds. They need the markets to be in place, they need to have the labor at the right times of the year, they need distribution to the markets. In some cases, new crops are going to require new types of processing, new types of packaging. That all requires new infrastructure investments. Farmers will need access to knowledge on how to grow new crops. That’s another part of the system that has to change.”


Tyler Ferdinand, Agricultural Resilience Associate, Climate Resilience Practice

“We know that beyond 2030 crops, livestock and fisheries are going to become less viable in some regions unless there is adaptation action. For major crops it’s been estimated that there’ll be a 5 to 7% decrease in yields for rice, maize and wheat per degree Celsius. And as you add those up over and over again – 5% - 5% - 5% - for each degree, that gets to a point when that crop is no longer economically viable.”

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