One of the many unwelcome side-effects of global warming is the unpredictable weather patterns that it causes. In Brazil, those same patterns could be the start of a severe disruption to the country’s agriculture sector.
Reuters breaks down what is at stake for Brazil and the rest of the world:
At stake is a $250 billion farm industry, food for millions of poor and supplies to world markets of Brazil’s major export crops such as soybeans and coffee.
The effects are already being felt in parts of Brazil. Excessive rains and crop disease have washed out or ruined many crops. Some farmers are looking to science for answers, as one farmer notes here:
We can’t change our planting calendar or the rains. How can I minimize my risks? We hope science will provide some answers.
Protecting harvests requires that farmers have the tools necessary to cope with changing weather and market variations. Brazil’s government has begun working with new coffee strains which resist heat (by having longer roots) to deal with the potential changes to the country’s agricultural model.
Agronomic research should aim to focus on these issues of water use, soil fertility, post-harvest losses, climate change, and alternative uses for by-products. The impact of this will be felt globally, as Brazil is the leading exporter of coffee, beef, soybeans, orange juice, and other farm products.