ECLAC Highlights Climate Change Impacts on Grain Production in Central America

ECLAC29 November 2013: The Subregional headquarters for Mexico and Central America of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) issued a study finding substantial potential climate change impacts on basic grains production in the seven countries of Central America, and suggesting possible strategies to promote adaptation.

The study examines the possible effects of temperature and rainfall changes on the production of maize, rice and beans in 95 subnational geographic units, using a baseline of their production in the 2000 decade. The three crops were chosen for several reasons, including: their central role in the region's diet and importance to Central American food security and nutrition; the amount of their regional production that remains in the hands of small farmers, most of whom live in poverty with limited access to social and economic services; and the importance of the role of small farmers in maintaining regional agrobiodiversity.

Under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) A2 scenario (increasing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and global inaction), by the end of the 21st century the region would experience yield drops of 35%, 43% and 50% for maize, beans and rice, respectively. Under the IPCC B2 scenario (more gradual changes and less extreme developments in all respects than other scenarios) the yields would drop by 17%, 19% and 30%, respectively. The study also suggests that appropriate adaptation measures will vary depending on local conditions, calling for adaptation actions to be focused locally and combine poverty reduction with reduction of identified vulnerabilities. The study also suggests integrating adaptation measures in the region's mitigation plans for the agricultural sector.

The study, titled 'Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Basic Grains in Central America,' was produced by ECLAC in cooperation with the Technical Group on Climate Change and Integrated Risk Management of the the Central American Agricultural Council (CAC), the cooperation body for agriculture and food security issues in the Central American Integration System (SICA) that brings together the Agriculture Ministers of Belize, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama. [Publication: Potential Impacts of Climate Change on Basic Grains in Central America (in Spanish)]