Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Climate change and food security


A model resource centre on display at Bubia outside Lae
 GLOBAL climate change poses great risks to poor people whose livelihoods depend directly on agriculture, forestry, and other natural resources.
Global organisations and governments have already taken steps to change their focus to assess, adapt and mitigate these risks.
Strategies and policy reforms to enhance human welfare in an equitable and sustainable ways are taking centre stage.
Programs and projects are being undertaken at various levels to analyse the complex interrelations between climate change and agricultural growth, food security and sustainable use of natural resources.
The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) is one such organisation that is focusing its efforts to identifying the key drivers of climate change and how these drivers will impact on food and agriculture systems, and food security.
IFPRI is identifying solutions to these challenges by focusing its research agenda on reducing poverty, hunger, and malnutrition is in a sustainable way.
Through its analysis on the factors influencing climate change and policy on food production systems and ongoing research, regions and sectors that are more likely to be vulnerable to climate change are determined.
And the Pacific Islands countries have been identified among the vulnerable regions to climate-driven environmental changes.
As such, the Washington-based Institution has extended its research to the Pacific to examine the linkages that connects the environmental change to the welfare of the people, to reveal the impact and develop possible adaptation strategies to reduce vulnerability.
Through its Environment and Production Technology Division, it has launched a project titled “Climate Change and Food Security: Adaption Mechanisms and Policy Recommendations for Sound Economic Livelihood in the Pacific” covering Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.
The project which started last October and ends in September 2011 will assess the impacts of climate change on food security, availability, and accessibility, and how this influences the livelihood of Pacific island communities.
Funded by the Pacific Department of the Asian Development Bank, it will determine potential adaptation mechanisms and coping strategies that will ensure food security and enhance livelihoods for the rural communities.
The project will recommend policy options for agriculture, fisheries, and food security to strengthen the support from national governments.
The recommendations could also be used to seek technical and financial assistance from regional and international organisations to assist rural communities facing climate change.
Research Analysts, Ms Rowena Valmonte-Santo and Ms Catherine Chang were in the country early this month to start the Papua New Guinea leg of the study and held preliminary discussion with various agencies including the: National Fisheries Authority, Department of Agriculture and Livestock, National Statistical Office, National Weather Bureau, Office of the Climate Change, and the National Agricultural Research Institute.
The research will be carried out by developing country case studies.
It will involve survey of experts, farmers, fishers, community groups and relevant agencies. Suitable secondary data on agriculture and fisheries and other related information to food security and climate change at country level will also be identified and compiled.
Data on land use and land cover, biophysical (fluctuation in sea level, soil fertility, water availability, elevation), socioecomic indicators (crop prices, population, poverty, nutritional information, consumption) and other related data will be compiled.
The data compiled would then be used to analyse the impacts of climate change on agriculture and fisheries.
Team leader, Ms Rowena Valmonte-Santos said the responses to climate need to occur on several levels, including crop and farm-level adaptations, national level agriculture-related policies and investments, and regional and global policies and investments.
She said to indentify both short and long-term adaptation measures that reduces the impacts of global change, her team will work with local partners and stakeholders to characterise their vulnerability through focus-group interviews and household surveys.
“A series of workshops will also be organised to bring together partners to develop and analyse scenarios for vulnerable communities and assess the effectiveness and relative costs, and benefits of response options and adaptations strategies.
“From there, regional-level and country-level adaptation strategies and policy reform options would be developed.”
IFPRI would also assist to enhance regional and national adaptive capacity by facilitating exchange of insights and experience among researchers, and by building capacity in national research institutions, Ms Valmonte-Santos added.
In PNG, the Office of the Climate Change was created to take lead in matters relating to climate at the national level.
It is hoped that some of the policy recommendations generated by this study to tackle food security threats will be bulit into the national plans.
National Agriculture Research Institute (with other agencies) and NGOs have developed initiatives aimed at increasing awareness, generation and adaptation of appropriate technologies. NARI is taking the lead in mitigating the impact of climate change on agriculture and food security.
All these initiatives and those of others need to be supported.
As a country, PNG has to move forward.
Concerned agencies need to come together and discuss adaptation strategies.
There is a need to identify and discuss the issues of difficulties the country face in adopting sensible policy options, and how these issues and political obstacles can be overcome, if possible.
Policy interventions are required to combat climate change, improve agricultural and fisheries production, and alleviate the socioeconomic conditions of the rural communities and vulnerable groups, especially women.
Hopefully, useful recommendations generated from this study will provide policymakers and stakeholders with the tools for making informed decisions on adaptation mechanisms and coping strategies.

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