The challenge of climate change

  • Rice and climate change research

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climate change and rice

Changes in temperature and precipitation that accompany climate change will require farmers to adapt. As a significant source of greenhouse gases and a potential sink for atmospheric carbon, agriculture and rice production systems can also help mitigate climate change.

The impacts that climate change will have on rice production will play a key role in determining food security in large parts of the world. Especially in Asia, where rice is the staple food of many rural and urban poor, negative effects on yields and availability of rice will directly translate into major food shortages.

Consequently, rice is a widespread farming system in many environments considered to be ‘hot spots’ of climate change impacts. For example, sea level rise causing flooding and salinity intrusion may affect Asia’s mega-deltas (Ganges-Brahmaputra in Bangladesh; Ayeyarwaddy in Myanmar; and Mekong and Red River in Vietnam) limiting future production. This in turn, along with other climate change impacts will affect domestic rice markets and international trade.

Moreover, rice is also grown in rainfed lowland regions that are prone to drought and flood. In these areas, production risks will increase under aggravating climatic extremes. Rice yields will also be negatively affected by higher night-time temperatures (a decline of 10% for every 1°C temperature increase).

Alternately, rice production is a source of greenhouse gas (methane) due to flooding of paddies. Like other cropping systems, rice fields also emit nitrous oxide due to soil and fertilizer nitrogen. Flooded rice fields also store large amounts of soil carbon that would be released as carbon dioxide in case rice paddies are converted to upland cropping systems. Under the Global Rice Science Partnership (GRiSP), impacts and possible adaptation as well as mitigation strategies will be studied in close linkage with other CGIAR research programs such as the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

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