Typhoon Haiyan caused more than $220 million in losses to Filipino agriculture, including crop losses of $110 million – but the devastating storm is far from the only weather event to inflict major agricultural damage.
The November 8 typhoon, which killed at least 3,900 people, wiped out about 153,495 hectares of rice, corn and other high-value crops, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said in a preliminary estimate. Livestock, poultry and fisheries were also hit, Reuters reports.
Sadly this is not an isolated case: economic losses from extreme weather events have risen from an annual global average of about $50 billion in the 1980s to close to $200 billion over the last decade, according to a World Bank report – and in assessing 72 hydro-meteorological disasters, the study found that economic losses occurred primarily in productive sectors such as agriculture and commerce. (Physical damage was almost equally distributed between infrastructure, and social and productive sectors.) Poor nations in Africa and Asia are among the most vulnerable to climate-related losses.
Typical mitigation strategies for the agriculture sector, the World Bank says, include livelihood diversification and adoption of more climate-resilient crops and livestock.
Takeaway: It’s difficult to pin the blame for any individual storm on climate change, but as the planet warms we will unfortunately see greater agricultural losses in some of the countries least able to take the economic hit.
Tamar Wilner is Senior Editor at Environmental Leader PRO.