Only 18 percent of the population of Latin America and the Caribbean live in rural areas, but these are increasingly hotbeds of poverty, and climate change is playing a major role in this phenomenon.

Stories of extreme drought followed by flash floods that virtually destroy entire crops and wreak chaos abounded during the region’s first Week of Agriculture and Food, held Nov. 20-23 in the Argentine capital.

The more than 1,000 officials, experts and civil society representatives who participated in the meeting agreed that the fall in agricultural yields and migration from the countryside are visible consequences of global warming.

“This year we had a lengthy drought that destroyed about 80 percent of the basic grains of subsistence farmers, and two months later we saw tremendous flooding that affected 23,000 hectares in the south of the country,” Honduran deputy agriculture minister José Alberto Benítez told IPS.

“We are the country most affected by climate change in the world. And when we see that thousands of young Hondurans have started migration caravans to Mexico or the United States, it’s largely because it’s increasingly difficult for them to stay in rural areas,” he added.

There are 59 million poor people in the countryside, according to the Panorama of Rural Poverty in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was presented during the Week of Agriculture and Food by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which organised the event together with the Argentine government.

This figure marks a historic setback, because between 1990 and 2014 rural poverty in the region had fallen from 65 percent to 46 percent.

Read more at IPS News