Searca, IRRI: Global warming to decrease PHL rice production

  • 11 August 2014, Monday

Source: Business Mirror
30 July 2014

A farmer carries baskets of palay seedlings to a rice farm in La Union, a province north of Manila. (Mau Victa) LATEST crop-simulation modeling and analyses showed that temperature increase is likely to result in rice-yield reduction, a joint statement by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) and the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) said on Wednesday.

“Global warming is likely to lead to drier conditions, which will result to a decrease in area planted, hence, affecting rice overall production in the Philippines,” according to the study titled “Impact on Climate Change on the Philippine Rice Sector: Supply/Demand Projections and Policy.”

The study, a collaboration between Searca and the IRRI,  concludes the impact of climate change on rice farming in the Philippines, explaining that crop yields were estimated and compared for different possible climate scenarios, which included incremental increases in temperature change in rainfall volume and distribution, and increase in atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration.

Adaptive measures, however, were in place and is already showing positive reports, the study said.

 The model in climate change’s effect in rice production was successful in “establishing data on the sensitivity of rice yield to weather variables, analyzed the risks associated with climate-related hazards, and assessed the availability of and access to coping measures in the major rice-growing areas and the level of adaptive capacity of the rice-production systems,” the statement said.

 The study, the statement said, conducted a survey of key climate-change adaptation measures and good practices in rice production in the country.

The survey said that “despite their vulnerability to climate hazards, the study areas continue to be the top rice-producing provinces in the Philippines,” indicating a high adaptive capacity.

The study sites were the top rice-producing provinces in the country, including Ilocos Norte, Cagayan, Isabela, Nueva Ecija, Laguna, Camarines Sur and Iloilo, the statement said, adding that “farmers in these provinces have successfully put into practice adaptation measures and good agricultural practices to cope with climate change.”

Included in the good practices surveyed were adjusting the crop calendar, updating of weather-based dynamic cropping calendar based on crop-yield probabilities, planting more resistant or climate stress-tolerant crop varieties, and employing crop-diversification and crop-livestock integration.

To be more adaptive in view of climate change, the study recommends defining potential climate scenarios to specific provinces, additional study on the interprovincial or regional trading of rice among areas with surpluses and shortages in the context of food security under a changing climate, and the incorporation of the available climate-change adaptation measures available in the integrated crop-management strategies in order to increase adaptive capacity of rice farmers.

Searca Director Dr. Gil Saguiguit said the results and findings of the study will be valuable in helping the government and stakeholders, particularly rice farmers, deal with the effects of climate change on rice production.

“[Rice] is the staple food item in the diet of about 80 percent of the Filipinos, and the value of its annual production is close to P2 billion,” he said.

Latest data from the IRRI showed that from the 5.4 million hectares of arable land in the country, 81 percent, equivalent to 4.4 million hectares, are devoted to rice production.

However, the IRRI said, rice production in the Philippines faces a number of constraints, namely, growing population, declining land area, high cost of inputs, and poor drainage and inadequate irrigation facilities.

“Due to the Philippines’s location, the rice sector becomes highly vulnerable to climate change, which severely affects crop production. Successive heavy rains cause severe drainage problems in paddy fields, thus resulting in a significant reduction in rice yield and quality,” the IRRI said.