A research done by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM), which was recently published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences claims that climate change might lead to a significant deficit in the production of vegetables and legumes in the future. This research is reportedly the first attempt to understand the extent of the effect of factors like water scarcity and increasing average temperatures on the production and nutritional quality of vegetables. Dr Pauline Scheelbeek, researcher at LSHTM said, “Our study shows that environmental changes such as increased temperature and water scarcity may pose a real threat to global agricultural production, with likely further impacts on food security and population health”.
Nutritionists have always explained that incorporating more and more vegetables and legumes in our diet helps us lead a healthy life, but it seems like that might be not be possible in the near future. So what could be done to ensure that we can keep on consuming nutritionally rich vegetables? Alan Dangour, Professor at LSHTM explains, “Our analysis suggests that if we take a ‘business as usual’ approach, environmental changes will substantially reduce the global availability of these important foods. Urgent action needs to be taken, including working to support the agriculture sector to increase its resilience to environmental changes and this must be a priority for governments across the world.” What could be done is the prioritization of innovation in agricultural production. Experts suggest that introducing new crop varieties should be on top of on the list of the global public health agenda.
Taking no action is not an option at all. Researchers are worried that if the necessary steps are not taken, it could mean a reduction by 35% AND 9% for vegetables and legumes yields respectively. In warm places like most of Africa, South Asia and Southern Europe vegetable production will see a reduction of approximately 31% because of the increase in the average temperature. Since several researches in the past showed that increase in the levels of carbon dioxide would increase crop production and there has been improvements and technological advancements in the agricultural industry- researchers at LSHTM do agree that there would be certain limitations to the study, but since the research was the first of its kind, they will of course will be encouraging more research.