Climate change opens up ‘frontier’ farmland
Kenya’s livestock herders planting chilli peppers, Pakistan’s mountain farmers rearing fish and tropical fruits in Sicily – farmers around the world are already shifting what they grow and breed to cope with rising temperatures and erratic weather.
In a few more decades, potatoes from the Russian tundra and corn from once-frigid areas of Canada could be added to the list as vast swathes of land previously unsuited to agriculture open up to farmers on a hotter planet.
Climate change could expand farmland globally by almost a third, a study by international researchers found this week.
They examined which new areas may become suitable for growing 12 key crops including rice, sugar, wheat, oil palm, cassava and soy.
“In a warming world, Canada’s North may become our breadbasket of the future,” the scientists wrote.
But, they warned, opening up new “agricultural frontiers” would also bring significant environmental threats, including a risk of increased planet-warming emissions from soils.