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2014-08-21

South Asia's agriculture at risk from climate change, report warns

India India’s agriculture is at risk (Photo: P. Casier/CGIAR)

South Asia will be severely affected by climate change within a few decades if no action is taken to counter global warming, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) warned on Tuesday. A new report predicts that six countries - Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, and Sri Lanka - will see an average economic loss of around 1.8% of their gross domestic product (GDP) by 2050, rising sharply to 8.8% by the end of this century. Almost all areas of South Asia will suffer from rising temperatures. While farmers in some parts of the region may benefit from warmer weather, the overall impacts on agriculture are expected to be negative. By 2080, annual rice production could increase by as much as 16% in Nepal, but decrease as much as 23% in Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Sri Lanka. Changes in rainfall patterns could increase the likelihood of crop failures, posing a serious threat to food security. Agriculture is an important economic sector in the region, contributing 20% of Bangladesh's GDP and employing 48% of the labor force. India is also deeply at risk from climate change and could suffer economic losses of up to 8.7% of its GDP by 2100. “Agriculture provides employment and livelihood opportunities to most of India’s rural population and changes in temperature and rainfall, and an increase in floods and droughts linked to climate change, would have a devastating impact on people’s food security, incomes, and lives,” said Bindu Lohani, ADB Vice-President for Knowledge Management and Sustainable Development. The report also list adaptation and mitigation measures for South Asia. In agriculture, rice cultivation systems with improved water and nutrient use, more efficient irrigation, altering planting times and diversifying crops could help. According to the report, studies have shown that the system of rice intensification, which combines improvements in rice planting techniques and water application, can double or triple current rice yields.

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The Original Report

Agriculture at a Crossroads
The original version of the full report, five regional reports and the Synthesis Report in English, with a feature that allows you to make comments and/or add important information.

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