Olive producers may cash in on climate change

Climate change and global warming seem unavoidable and will have consequences for all of us and – not least for farmers, whose business will be challenged by the new environmental conditions. Several models have been established to predict the consequences and most of them are based on a species’ geographic range by comparing weather data with a species’ observed geographic distribution. In a new approach, Luigi Ponti from Centro Ricerche Casaccia in Rome, Italy designed a physiologically-based demographic model that predicts geographical distribution changes based on observations of how weather drives interactions between species. The model showed that an expected 1.8 °C average temperature increase between 2030 and 2060 by itself will increase olive yield across the Mediterranean Basin by 4.1%. However, infestation by the obligate olive fruit fly (Bactrocera oleae) is predicted to decrease by 8%, leading to an average increase in net profits for olive producers of 9.6%. While some regions, in particular the Middle East may experience a 7.2% decline, North Africa can look forward to a substantial profit increase of 41%.

Source: Ponti et al (24 March 2014) PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1314437111