Climate change adds another challenge to the world food system – a system that is supposed to feed everybody while ensuring the sustainable management of natural resources. Is mankind adequately prepared to face this challenge? Climate change impacts on agricultural systems will vary between countries and regions. Increased heat waves and lower precipitation level, as predicted by climate change modelers, may shock the production of major world grain producers. Many scientists consider that impacts on Ukrainian agriculture may not be as disastrous as in other countries. Agriculture is one of the most strategically important sectors, accounting for 9.6% of GDP and 15.6% of total exports in 2011. It absorbs approximately 16.77% of total employment. Ukraine's ''black soil'' is rightly famous, a rich soil well known for its fertile qualities. In Soviet times, Ukraine was called the breadbasket of Europe, the land that fed the world and provided one-fourth of the Soviet Union's agricultural output. One of the country's greatest resources, Ukraine's rich, black soil is becoming increasingly important to the rest of the world. My studies addressed the following questions: what is the range of possible climate change impacts on Ukrainian agriculture; what role might Ukraine play in maintaining world agricultural production and food security under climate change; what is the potential of Ukraine to increase its agricultural exports?
We used IIASA's GLOBIOM model to analyze climate change impacts on agriculture and the dynamic recursive procedure for downscaling and harmonization of data. With the help of the GLOBIOM group we considered a range of climate scenarios generated by five GSMs and four RCPs, analyzing their spatio-temporal impacts on crop yields generated by the EPIC model. Under alternative productivity scenarios, we used GLOBIOM to investigate what opportunities the Ukrainian agricultural sector has to increase its markets share and enhance world food security.
The index of gross agricultural production in 2011 has increased by 82.6% compared to the 1990 level. This means that gross agricultural production has not yet returned to the 1990 level; however, the tendency is positive. Half of all arable land in Ukraine is dedicated to wheat, barley, maize, and sunflower seed - the four main crops grown in Ukraine. The foreign trade value of agricultural products has been increasing for the last 10 years. Food products form the majority of Ukrainian agricultural imports, while Ukraine mainly exports low- and medium-processed products.
Studies show that the possible positive climate change effects on agriculture and food security in Ukraine have a dual character. The current main concerns are to increase cash crop production. To diversify the crop basket, regulations need to be introduced on what crops should be grown and where. The climate change effects on Ukrainian agriculture may be positive if the Ukrainian government develops proper policy recommendations accounting for international trade, ecological, and socioeconomic constraints.
Dmytro Melnyk, of the Institute for Economics and Forecasting of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, is a citizen of Ukraine. He was funded by IIASA's National Member Organization for Ukraine and worked in the Ecosystems Services and Management (ESM) Program during the YSSP.
Please note these Proceedings have received limited or no review from supervisors and IIASA program directors, and the views and results expressed therein do not necessarily represent IIASA, its National Member Organizations, or other organizations supporting the work.
Last edited: 19 August 2015
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