Increase resilience of farmers, change crop patterns to adapt to climate change

Today, the threats and challenges of the environment operating on food production are not limited to each country or each region.
An ADB report in 2019 stated that “climate change is likely to be one of the most significant development challenges confronting Southeast Asia in the 21st century.”
Like other regional countries, Myanmar is also expected to be seriously affected by the adverse impacts of climate change. Climate change is considered to be a serious threat and challenge in the development of agriculture on which our country’s economy relies on.
We are witnessing changing rainfall patterns in the monsoon as a negative impact of climate change. With rainfall patterns changing and Myanmar receiving less rainfall in the last rainy season, the flow of water into dams has decreased this year.
A fall in the water level in the dams means thirstier winter and summer crops, supplied with less water from dams.
The situation has rung alarm bells and brought into focus the need to fundamentally rethink our current agricultural pattern, water usage, and food systems.
Rice production, especially rainfed rice, would be at risk due to frequent drought and changing rainfall pattern.
Stress-tolerant rice varieties requiring less irrigation water with ability to survive at high temperature should be introduced. In efforts to build resilience of farmers, research on rescheduling crop calendar and cropping pattern is necessary to mitigate the adverse climatic conditions.
Changing the way the world produces rice will be key to fighting the climate crisis amidst a ballooning population that will increase demand for the staple crop. Conventional methods of rice cultivation uses flooded fields, is land and resource-intensive, and is responsible for almost 2.5% of greenhouse gas emissions.
According to agribusiness firm Olam International, if these current methods don’t change, additional land equivalent to the size of Chile would be needed to meet rice demand by 2050. This has yet to take into account the added vulnerabilities that climate change will bring – farmers will have to face increasingly unpredictable rain and other weather patterns, which will likely impact the arable land area for rice cultivation even more than previously thought.
Our government has a role to play to implement crucial climate mitigation and adaptation measures and farming regulations that oversee fertilizer management and water wastage, without undermining food security and farmer livelihoods.

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