Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Agriculture show to focus on climate change



Climate change will be the focus of this year’s Agricultural Innovations Show planned for Tuesday, May 5, at Bubia near Lae.

 Displays and presentations during this annual event will be made on issues surrounding this global phenomenon, its impact on PNG agriculture, and initiatives undertaken by National Agriculture Research Institute and its collaborators to tackle different aspects of the climate change problem in the country.

Accordingly, the theme for this year’s occasion will be ‘Adapting PNG Agriculture to Climate Change’.

NARI scientists are well into their preparations.

A range of information resources on climate change will be showcased to create awareness and educate the farmers and the general public.

Such resources will be in leaflets, posters, videos and CDs highlighting the global changes and scenarios, including global warming and El Niño and La Niña events, their effects on agricultural farming systems and livelihoods of Papua New Guineans, and strategies on how the country can respond to global warming and possible droughts brought on by El Niño.

PNG, situated on the western rim of the tropical pacific, has already suffered from:

·        The effects of rising sea levels with some small island communities evacuating,;

·        Extremes in rainfall intensities linked to La Nina Southern Oscillation events causing floods and landslides;

·        Widespread food shortage resulting from drought conditions in 1997;

·        Threats to food and cash crop production posed by pests and diseases like the late blight on potato and leaf scab on sweet potato; and

·        Increased incidence of malaria in the PNG highlands due to warmer temperatures.

NARI director-general Dr Raghunath Ghodake recently called for PNG to develop a multidimensional strategy to adapt to climate change and mitigate its impacts on agriculture and food security in the country.

He stressed that: “The country requires a multi-pronged strategy in the areas of agricultural research for development, policy and resource support, and strategic and effective implementation.”

In response to the threat of climate change, a series of projects have been jointly implemented and/or developed by various Australian and PNG institutions and NARI. These projects are in the areas of early warning system, crop and genotype diversification, biotechnology targeting of pests and disease, dissemination and adaptation of drought-coping strategies, and sustainable water supply.

 Much of these will be shown during the innovations show.

Dr Ghodake said PNG must take the initiative and urgently address the imminent impacts of climate change on the nation’s food and water security.

He also stressed that PNG must make a strategic investment by accepting and implementing agriculture as a development agenda for the well-being of the people and prosperity of the nation.


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