Report urges Pacific nations to increase production of climate-resistant crops

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 14th September 2011

A new report published today by the Asian Development Bank (ABD) urges Pacific nations to increase local food production, particularly of climate-resistant crops such as taro, yam, and cassava. The report also says that climate change threatens to increase hunger and malnutrition among the Pacific region’s poorest people unless there is action soon.

According to Food Security and Climate Change in the Pacific: Rethinking the Options., unseasonal weather has already reduced crop production for both commercial and subsistence farmers in the Pacific region.

Mahfuzuddin Ahmed, a senior economist in ADB’s Pacific Department, who wrote the report said, “Rising temperatures and rising tides due to climate change could reduce food supply in the Pacific. New crops, crop varieties, or technologies could be adopted to help farmers improve their traditional production systems. Carefully managing coastal fisheries and helping them withstand climate change will also be crucial.”

According to the report, agricultural productivity has stagnated in the last 45 years despite the region’s growing population. A steady flow of people from the countryside seeking better work in the cities has contributed to that. This has left Pacific nations increasingly dependent on imported food, particularly in urban areas.

“Communities need to work together to find the best way to adapt to changing agricultural needs and countries should also work with each other and with regional agencies,” said Mr. Ahmed.

The report said food security would be improved by better national planning and policies that took account the need of climate change and for additional infrastructure such as better water pipes, roads, ports and coastal development to be climate proofed.