BANGKOK, April 12 (UPI) -- Catastrophic flood-drought cycles could threaten Asia's rice production and pose a significant threat to millions of people across the region, researchers say.
Rapid climate change and its potential to intensify Southeast Asia's droughts and floods could affect Asia's "Rice Bowl" and lead to millions in crop damages, climate specialists and agricultural scientists warned.
"Climate change endangers crop and livestock yields and the health of fisheries and forests at the very same time that surging populations worldwide are placing new demands on food production," said Bruce Campbell of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (originally the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research).
"These clashing trends challenge us to transform our agriculture systems so they can sustainably deliver the food required to meet our nutritional needs and support economic development, despite rapidly shifting growing conditions."
With agriculture being the backbone of most economies in the region, decreasing crop yields would shake countries to the core, researchers said.
"In the fields, there is no debate whether climate change is happening or not," said Raj Paroda of the Asia-Pacific Association of Agricultural Research Institutions. "Now, we must think about what the research community can provide governments to guide effective action.
"Given the region's current state of food insecurity, climate-smart agriculture has to become the central part of Asia's adaptation strategy."
Agriculture must become more productive, more resilient and more climate-friendly, participants at a conference on climate smart agriculture in Asia taking place this week in Bangkok were told.
"These clashing trends challenge us to transform our agriculture systems so they can sustainably deliver the food required to meet our nutritional needs and support economic development, despite rapidly shifting growing conditions," Campbell said.