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Impacts Of Climate Change On Agriculture Highlighted

The potential impacts of climate change on Philippine agriculture were presented in a seminar by Dr. Ma. Victoria Espaldon of the UP Los Baños School of Environmental Science during the 5th Agriculture and Fisheries Technology Commercialization Forum and Exhibit on 27-30 August 2009. The activity was spearheaded by the Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR).

Dr. Espaldon noted that there has been a steady increase in global surface temperature brought about by the greenhouse effect. The increase in temperature of the planet is causing the polar ice caps to melt causing sea levels to rise and the habitat of arctic animals like walruses to disappear.

In the local context, the Philippines is also experiencing increase in temperature, sea level rise, extreme events like heavy rains during summer and stronger typhoons. Agriculture is the most affected by climate change. Heat stress, excessive rainfall, soil erosion and water shortage have decreased crop harvests as well as livestock production. New patterns of diseases have also emerged.

On the other hand, climate change is also a challenge. Different sectors hare finding ways to adapt and mitigate its effects. Dr. Espaldon cited that rice scientists are now developing rice varieties that are resistant to drought, salinity, submergence and heat waves. Further, stress resistance in other crops and livestock are also being developed.

In terms of nature and extent, she further cited that the potential impacts of climate change are yet to be understood. “An integrated approach to the issue must be in place to optimize the resources that we have in order to deal with the challenges of climate change,” Dr. Espaldon concluded.

By Johanna B. Benavente