Outlook for Rice Uncertain
The Asian Development Bank has stated that responding positively to economic reforms, the economies of Cambodia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, and Viet Nam (CLMV) have shown tremendous growth since the mid - 1980s, including in their respective agriculture sectors.
Recent developments, however, have brought into question the CLMV countries’ ability to sustain further increases in agricultural productivity given the slow pace of reforms and emerging challenges.
Going forward, the reform agenda must go beyond the traditional view of expanding yields and supply of agricultural products for development gains in the sector to contribute to inclusive growth, poverty alleviation, and food security.
The key inputs to production, land and water, have been increasingly constrained with adverse impacts on productivity and, hence, on production.
Not only have they become scarcer, but their quality and that of the ecosystem services have deteriorated also.
The observed yield growth rate has been on the decline. Moreover, yield has been increasing at differential rates resulting in the widening gaps across the countries.
These observed trends are happening not only with rice and wheat, the key food staples, but also among other agricultural commodities.
In Cambodia however, the prolonged dry weather from April to mid-July has already resulted in severe delays in sowings of the 2015 main season food crops and undermined yields of earlier planted crops, including maize, soybeans and potatoes.
For the main staple rice, the bulk of the main (wet) season paddy crop is normally planted between May and August.
Following the poor rains so far, farmers were reported to have resorted to
broadcasting the rice crop, which is less water intensive than transplanting, allowing for faster progress in dry conditions but which, generally produce lower yields.
As a result, despite the dry weather, as of 8 July, some 1.1 million hectares have been placed under rice crop, 12 percent above the area planted at the same time in 2014.
However, yields are expected to be negatively affected in large parts, including main rice-producing provinces of Prey Veng, Takeo, Kampong Cham, Svay Rieng, Battambang, Kampot and Kampong Thom, which all together account for more than 60 percent of the annual rice output.
More precipitation is required to avoid a reduced rice production this season. If rains do not improve in the coming weeks, the Government plans to encourage farmers to plant short term rice varieties.
A looming question now is whether the sector will continue to sustain its growth to further support economic development, improve food security, and enhance the living conditions of the people, particularly those in the rural areas.
The current uncertain global environment, with problems of soaring food and fuel prices, volatile markets, and climate change, also presents new challenges to the CLMV countries.
Considering that reforms have traditionally played a critical role in the development of the agriculture sector in the CLMV countries, it was argued that the reform process should be stepped up to attain sustained productivity gains and to support the structural transformation of the agriculture sector.
However, how these reforms should evolve to enhance the sector’s performance not only to sustain further improvement in food security and enhancement of welfare but also to take advantage of the opportunities that come along with the globalization of markets remains a challenge to the CLMV countries.
Eradicating hunger and malnutrition should be within reach of most Asian countries going by the impressive economic growth trends in recent years - but this is not quite the case. Asia is still home to the highest number hungry people on the planet, with 512 million undernourished people in 2014– 2016, or two thirds of the world’s total. This means that 1 in 8 Asians is undernourished despite significant progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to reduce by nearly half the proportion of undernourished people in Asia since 1990. Another indicator of hunger is the proportion of underweight children under the age of five, which reached 18.4% in 20142016, a sharp reduction from 31.4% in 1990 but short of the MDG target of 15.7%. High levels of micronutrient deficiencies or “hidden hunger” thus persist in Asia, threatening sustainable growth as it affects the next generation’s ability to learn and work.
As global attention shifts to the justadopted Sustainable Development Goals, efforts to address the food security issue will be ushered into its most challenging phase yet, with food production required to increase by 70% to meet the calorie requirements of Asia, where the population is expected to reach 5.2 billion people by 2050.
On the demand side, growing economies are expanding the middle class in cities, where 64% of the region’s population will live by 2050. Higher incomes in urban areas result in a growing demand for resource-intensive food such as meat, dairy and processed food. On the supply side, land, soil, and the natural resources needed to grow food are being degraded, used for things other than food production, and threatened by the impacts of climate change. In addition, post-harvest losses in South and Southeast Asia account for onethird of regional food production, with most of the waste occurring during the handling and storage phase of the value chain.
A child sit on cracked earth. metaphoric for climate change and global warming.
Going forward, ADB’s new Operational Plan for Food Security 2015-2020 focused on the following critical areas to address the region’s food security challenges:
1. Increasing the efficiency of the food system to reduce use of energy and water through climate- smart agriculture; adopting modern technology to grow more food per unit of input; and mechanization.
2. Reducing pre- and post-harvest losses through improved logistics and modernizing value chains. This will also allow smallholder farmers to diversify into higher value crops, and meet enhanced food safety standards.
3. Improving value chains infrastructure to better meet consumer needs with more investment in processing, storage and distribution. An upgraded food transportation network will help integrate fragmented markets, reduce transaction costs, and enable wide dissemination of sophisticated farm inputs, financial services and modern technology.
4. Partnering with the private sector on inclusive business opportunities that connect farmers, small producers and processors to investors and markets, and help achieve scale for instance via risk sharing agreements.
5. Supporting public policies that create an enabling environment for agribusiness and set higher standards for green business, food safety, and quality.
6. Promoting innovative financing tools to give agricultural small and mediumsized enterprises access to credit so they can participate in global value chains, including cluster lending and financial literacy training.
Ensuring safe, nutritious and affordable access to food for all calls for structural shifts in production organization and distribution. Supply- side interventions to enhance productivity on the farm and improve livelihood of smallholder farmers will work only when we also invest in market linkages, value chains, and logistics to achieve a more productive, integrated and efficient food system.
Strong synergies with investment in other sectors— water, energy, transport, and finance— as well as more active pursuit of South- South and regional cooperation and integration on cross-border solutions will result in win-win outcomes.
The 2015 El Niño current status and forecasts
In early March 2015, the main meteorological and oceanic institutions collectively stated that weak to moderate El Niño conditions1 were indicated by above average equatorial Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) across the equatorial Pacific and by the corroborating tropical atmospheric response.
After a slight decline in April, a steady increase of the SSTs over the central part of the Pacific Ocean during May, reflect an ongoing and strengthening El Niño.
El Niño forecast for 2015/16 May is one of the most critical months in the assessment of the development of El Niño, as the state of the Pacific Ocean during this time is very dynamic and fluid, meaning that winds, temperatures and other atmospheric features can change relatively quickly, thus making the forecast more complicated.
For example, this was witnessed last year when the forecast of the onset of El Niño had been released in May 2014 and only concretized in March 2015.
However, this year the conditions of El Niño are already present in the Pacific Ocean. The consensus of ENSO prediction models project to continue throughout 2015, with many predicting SST anomalies to strengthen during the last quarter of the year and possibly intensify from a moderate to a strong El Niño through 2015/16 winter.
Deforestation at Vietnam countryside, stump solitary, jungle damaged, make change climate, living environment is narrow, this is global problem, desolate landscape on day with dry tree.
The Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology has warned, in early June, that current levels of warmth across the Pacific Ocean are higher than normal and similar to those achieved during the 1997 event, the most severe on record.
However, no precise quantitative correlation between El Niño’s intensity and its impact on agriculture has been probed. Its impact on crops depends on timing and duration, as well as climatic codifications produced by El Niño together with the sensitivity of the phenological phase of crops during the peak period of influence of the event.
Flowering and grain filling phases of cereal crops are more sensitive to water stress. Such an anomaly is known to occur every 2 to 7 years, with varying degrees of intensity and duration. The phenomenon usually peaks around late December.
The direct impact of El Niño is expected to be felt over the next few months.
The current dry weather may be attributed to the current global El Niño event, which is often associated with dry weather in the region, although no precise quantitative association between the occurrence of El Niño and its impact on agricultural production can be deduced.
Its impact on crops very much depends on the timing and intensity of the phenomenon. Currently, reports from the main meteorological and oceanic institutions stipulate that El Niño conditions would strengthen in the coming months and persist through 2015/16 winter.
FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System is closely monitoring all weather anomalies and assessing possible effects on crop production and food security.
Asia and the Pacific faces a food ‘storm’ in the coming decades unless it takes decisive steps to respond to a host of pressures on its food supplies – including from climate change.
“This will require a combination of conserving and managing existing resources more effectively, tapping science to grow food from less land, and drawing in investment to meet growing food demand,” said Mahfuz Ahmed, Asian Development Bank ( ADB) Technical Adviser for Rural Development and Food Security.
Climate change is a major food security challenge in Asia with more than 60% of the population, or 2.2 billion people, relying on agriculture and food production for income.
“Developing Asia’s farms are expected to be hit hard by climate change, with production losses estimated at 2-18% for irrigated rice and 2- 45% for irrigated wheat by 2050,” said Michiko Katagami, ADB natural resources and agriculture specialist. “Climate change adaptation and mitigation must be central to the food and nutrition security agenda for the region.”
The numbers are stark. By 2030, 65% of Asians will live in cities. With an additional 3 billion consumers expected to join the middle class by 2030, food demand will rise by up to 70%. Available water supplies are shrinking in the face of increasing demand from consumers and competition from the agriculture and energy sectors. Around 70% of Asia’s surface water is used for agriculture, but much of it is used inefficiently. Many water- stressed countries lose large volumes of treated water through leakage in water supply systems. Asia is running out of water for the future.
Now rising temperatures, increasing droughts and floods and other weather extremes are more worrying threats to food security.
By 2050, expected crop yield reduction for irrigated paddy is 14–20%; for irrigated wheat, 32- 44%; irrigated maize, 2–5%; and irrigated soybean, 9–18%.
Rice prices are projected to be 29–37% higher in 2050 compared to a no- climate change case; wheat prices will be 81–102% higher, maize prices will rise 58–97%, and soybean prices are set to increase 14–49%.
ADB’s mult i sector approach to sustainable food security in developing Asia has resulted in improved water productivity such as irrigation, drainage, and water storage; increased resilience against natural disasters with f loodprone, drought-prone rice varieties; and enhanced regional food security through an emergency food reserve system.
In India and Bangladesh, more than 5 million hectares of rice fields are flooded during most of the planting seasons. With the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), rice varieties withstanding floods were developed.
Work was done on the development and dissemination of rice varieties for watershort areas in India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Laos, Cambodia, and the Philippines. Rice varieties with resistance to salt water intrusion, pests and diseases are also being developed.
As a result, governments have requested ADB support for large- scale seed multiplication and evaluation of climate- adapted water- saving rice varieties. Also, ADB assisted the Association of Southeast Asian Nations ( ASEAN) to establish an emergency rice reserve as part of the ASEAN food security framework.
The annual burning procedure of rice paddies for the next crop season. Cambodia