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The Last Straw? The additional burden of climate change on food security in the Himalaya

The food price spikes of 2007–08 brought food security into sharp focus on the global agenda. Declines in international commodity markets, financial speculation in low cereal stocks, dramatic weather events, soaring oil prices, and growth in biofuels competing for cropland merged to produce a global crisis.

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Coupled with the growing impacts of climate change, the question of whether we would have enough food to feed a growing world population in the future vaulted to the top of political agendas.

However, as with so many global issues, some regions are far more vulnerable to food insecurity than others. Mountain regions are particularly hard hit. In places such as the Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH), food security is not only a question for the future but for today. Here, vulnerability is a fact of life. Around half of the world’s undernourished people live in Bangladesh, China, India, Nepal and Pakistan, and in all of these countries, the mountain areas have the highest degree of food deficiency. 

“The climate has already changed so much and we are dependent on water. After the floods last year, now it has become the time of drought (before monsoon). There is no rain. But we are obliged to cultivate. If not, we have nothing to eat.” 

60-year old farmer, Lower Lawpani, Tinsukia, India