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Climate change, agriculture, and food

By: Rex L. Navarro - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 05:06 AM July 29, 2017

Recently 60 delegates from 22 Asian countries took part in a workshop LATEST STORIES MOST READ

organized by the United Nations in Manila to map out national adaptation NEWSINFO

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change adaptation including accessing climate finance. This is quite APRIL 03, 2018 05:19 AM

significant in the wake of US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal of NEWSINFO

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change and adapt to its effects, with enhanced support to assist developing APRIL 03, 2018 05:18 AM

countries to do so. NEWSINFO

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Sunlight, temperature and rainfall are the main drivers of crop environment violator
APRIL 03, 2018 05:17 AM
production; hence, agriculture is directly affected by climate change. But it
should also be noted that agriculture also affects climate change as it is

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responsible for about one-third of greenhouse gas emissions, a major rehab plan for Baguio
cause of global warming. About 25 percent of carbon dioxide emissions
APRIL 03, 2018 05:16 AM

are produced by human practices, mainly deforestation, use of fossil-fuel-


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based fertilizers, and burning of plant materials. Likewise, most of the Jinggoy lie?
methane in the atmosphere comes from livestock, forest fires, irrigated
APRIL 03, 2018 05:11 AM

rice cultivation, and waste products.

Combating climate change is one of the biggest challenges FROM AROUND THE WEB
facing humanity in the 21st century. The Intergovernmental
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climate change impacts will slow down economic growth, make poverty
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For major crops like rice, corn and wheat, climate change without
adaptation is projected to reduce production when the temperature
increases by 2 degrees Centigrade. All aspects of food security are
potentially affected by climate change, including food access, utilization,
and price stability. Likewise, the IPCC reports that due to the sea-level rise
projected throughout the century and beyond, coastal systems and low-
lying areas will increasingly experience adverse impacts such as
submergence, coastal flooding, and coastal erosion.

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The UN recently projected that up to a quarter of global food production

could be lost by 2050 due to the combined impact of climate change, land
degradation and water scarcity. At the same time, the global population is
projected to increase to about 9.5 billion. In the Philippines, the major
impacts of climate change are sea-level rise due to rising temperatures;
more frequent and intense floods; stronger and more frequent typhoons
causing landslides and flooding of coastal areas; and longer and more
intense droughts with more El Niño episodes.

In order to guarantee food security, agriculture must adapt to yield

reductions from floods, droughts and rising temperatures, and at the same
time address its contributions to climate change. Current agricultural
practices require large amounts of oil to produce the chemical fertilizers
necessary to grow crops, run the factories that process grain into
packaged foods, and fuel trucks and airplanes to transport food across the
world. This gives impetus to the generation and application of innovations
generally dubbed as “climate-smart agriculture.”

The Food and Agriculture Organization defines climate-smart agriculture

as an approach that guides actions needed to transform and reorient
agricultural systems to effectively support development and ensure food
security in a changing climate. According to the World Bank, climate-
smart agriculture seeks to increase sustainable productivity, strengthen
farmers’ resilience, reduce agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions, and
increase carbon sequestration. It strengthens food security and delivers
environmental benefits.

Climate-smart agriculture includes proven practices such as conservation

agriculture, intercropping, crop rotation, integrated crop-livestock
management, agroforestry, water management, better weather
forecasting, more resilient food crops, and risk insurance.

In countries where the economy is heavily based on agriculture, such as

In countries where the economy is heavily based on agriculture, such as
the Philippines, modernizing agriculture is the most efficient poverty-
reduction measure. Yet agricultural expansion for food production and
economic development come at the expense of soil, water and biodiversity
conflicting with other global and national goals.

Food insecurity is caused by a combination of factors resulting in

dramatic increases in food price and food scarcity. The causes of food
insecurity are multiple, but a major factor is climate change, most notably
the adverse weather events that have diminished grain stocks and led to
greater price uncertainty. These trends show no signs of abating, and it
seems very likely that in the future, climate change will increasingly
diminish food security and widen the gap between the rich and the poor.
Preventing a deepening food crisis and lessening the potential for wider
social and geopolitical unrest will require swift action and strong political
will to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. It will also require policies to
protect the millions of people facing poverty and hunger, and changes to
agricultural practices worldwide.

Climate change is here, and the situation is urgent. Human activities are
loading our atmosphere with heat-trapping gases. The disruption of our
planet’s climate system is inflicting serious damage on human, animal,
aquatic and plant life. Heat waves, forest fires, and floods are intensifying.
The sea level is rising and will continue to do so in the future. The
Philippines and the world need concerted action to widen the narrowing
path toward climate change adaptation and mitigation for sustained food


Dr. Rex L. Navarro is a member of the Coalition for Agriculture

Modernization of the Philippines and a former director of strategic
marketing and communication, International Crops Research Institute for
the Semi-Arid Tropics in Andra Pradesh, India.

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TAGS: agriculture, climate change, Commentary, food security

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