New UK centre to help farmer resilience amid climate change

The new research institute will find ways to enable farmers to build resilience against climate change
The new research institute will find ways to enable farmers to build resilience against climate change

A new centre has been launched in Norfolk to develop solutions to enable farmers worldwide to build resilience in the face of climate change.

The Norwich Institute for Sustainable Development will help food producers affected by variability in rainfall, periods of drought and more extreme weather events.

Research shows that yields of major staple foods like grains, fruits and vegetables are expected to decrease by between 3% and 10% per degree of warming.

With global temperatures increasing year-on-year, it is hoped the work of the new centre can help to mitigate these stark predictions.

Scientists warn that communities all over the globe would be impacted by food shortages and price hikes if climate change worsens.

Professor Nitya Rao, director for the institute, said extreme and volatile weather was the 'most critical issue facing the world today'

"If we don’t act now crop yields will continue to reduce and become more unreliable over time," she added.

“People in the UK and across the world could soon see everyday foods like bread, cereals and tomatoes becoming more scarce and more expensive.

"This will affect those who are most vulnerable who may be unable to access adequate, nutritious and affordable food for themselves and their families."

Despite this, researchers have made considerable progress over the last 50 years with technologies now available for dealing with pests, diseases and water scarcity.

"A key focus for us is to change the way we work – to make sure that innovations meet farmers’ needs around the world, supporting farming communities to make agriculture more resilient and supporting the world’s food supply,” she said.

The institute aims to support continued progress toward the UK government’s stated ambition to 'leverage wider UK expertise through the UK’s world-leading science, research and development base to tackle global problems'.

The centre is based at Norwich Research Park and also involves researchers from the Quadram Institute, Earlham Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory.