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IPCC: Climate change a threat, but also an opportunity for food producers

Published on 22 April 2014 Global

"Climate change without adaptation is projected to negatively impact the production" of major crops like wheat, rice, and corn in the next decades, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

"All aspects of food security are potentially affected by climate change, including food access, utilization, and price stability (high confidence),” the panel said in the IPCC Working Group II Final Draft of the report "Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability".

However, the IPCC, a UN panel, also said that "in a low crop productivity scenario, producers in food exporting countries, such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, would benefit from global food price rises and reduce poverty."

The Philippines mainly exports coconut oil, banana, tuna, and pineapple. However, the country also imports rice, wheat, soy bean, and milk products.

The threat: climate change without adaptation

According to the IPCC, increasing global temperature will bring about changes in countries' weather systems. Prolonged droughts, stronger typhoons, sea-level rise, and increasing temperatures will make it more difficult for farmers to produce crops.

According to the final draft of the report, “in terms of risks of increasing heat stress, there are parts of Asia where current temperatures are already approaching critical levels during the susceptible stages of the rice plant.” This includes the Philippines during the months of April and June.

The Philippines also stands to lose millions in crops whenever a typhoon hits.

For instance, it was reported that Typhoon Agaton caused P266.64 million in damage to agriculture, a bulk of which was to rice cultivation areas, in January.

Super typhoon Odette caused P 59.54 million worth of farm damage in 2013. The most damaged crops were rice, corn, vegetables, and bananas, a previous report stated.

Efforts to adapt

Countries are in need of rice varieties that can "tolerate higher temperature and drought, survive prolonged flooding, and soil salinity," said Dr. Robert Zeigler, director general of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) during the 11th International Society for Plant Anaerobiosis (ISPA) in October last year.

Submergence-tolerant and high-yielding rice varieties have already been produced and scientists at IRRI are also breeding rice varieties that are drought-tolerant and salinity tolerant.

"Our dream varieties are (those) that can tolerate drought, submergence, salinity, and actually we are developing these varieties now. We are hoping that in two or three years, we'll start releasing them," Dr. Abdelbagi Ismail, principal scientist and plant physiologist of IRRI, said in a report from October last year. — Kim Luces/JDS, GMA News

Source: GMA News | 3 April 2014