Farmers Mobilization in Response to Climate Changes

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Sustainable Development of Fishery Resources
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Strive for Safety Food Production and Maintain Food Security for Domestic Requirement
How Much Does Global Warming Affect Agriculture?
Farmers Mobilization in Response to Climate Changes

Strive for Safety Food Production and Maintain Food Security for Domestic Requirement

Date:2010-09-07

Weather hot, rice is easy to become

Hot summer is unbearable for human beings and it seems to have slowed down the growth of farm crops. So we can imagine that as global warming deteriorates increasingly, food supply will become a problem because warmer weather will definitely affect the growth of farm crops. Can Taiwan produce enough food for its population when climate changes for the worse?

Warming weather has resulted in decreased production of such subtropical and tropical staple foods as rice and tuberous crops, not only affecting food supply for our survival but also leading to shortage of livestock feeds. In a report presented in the Policy Conference on Adjusting Agriculture in Response to Climate Changes, Prof. Lu Hu-sheng of the National Taiwan University Department of Horticulture explained the potential impacts on agriculture.

Studies by international rice research organizations showed that grain production will decrease 7% when the average temperature rises one degree Celsius, and rice will become sterile when the temperature is higher than 33 degrees Celsius. And local experts forecast that if temperatures in Taiwan rose more than two degrees Celsius by the end of the 21st century, rice production here could be 13-14% less and the production might be lesser under the impact of drought or typhoon. Production of vegetables growing in either open fields or grecuhouse will also decrease directly or indirectly because of higher temperatures, thus resulting in unstable vegetable prices. It will be difficult for fruit trees to lie dormant when rainfall patterns change or it is too hot, and this will adversely affect the maturation rate of fruits and their quality. Plant diseases and insect pests as well as weeds caused by climate changes will cause even greater harms to farm crops, and it is expected to cost farmers more for pest and disease controls and make organic farming more difficult.

In addition to farm crops, higher temperatures will also affect sow’s estrus and mating and milk yield of dairy cattle. And the Global Change Research Center simulation forecast that fish catch in offshore Taiwan will also decrease or become unstable, while aquaculture will suffer from higher morbidity and mortality rates because of temperature changes.

When preparing in advance for Taiwan’s food security, to raise the rate of self-sufficiency is the most important task. Based on Taiwan’s per capita consumption of 48-kilogram rice in 2008 and 37-kilogram wheat in 2007, the self-sufficiency rate is calculated at a mere 32.7%, much lower than South Korea’s 45% and Japan’s 40%. Plus Taiwan’s dependence on rice as the staple food, it increases the risk for food security.

Famers have to plan their countermeasures in advance, because drastic changes of the environment will affect production costs and harvests, resulting in reduced earnings and unstable income.

Farmers should closely cooperate with agricultural research institutes to plant improved anti-stress and high energy-efficiency crop varieties, strive to improve fertilizer management, soil conservation, produce proper quantity at the right seadon wsuig the most adiaueed fechndagy and to confool the disease and pest control, and install energy and water conservation facilities. These measures will reduce the risk brought by climate changes to the environment, while creating new business opportunities in a crisis and enhancing farmers’ competitiveness.

Early preparation of food security, can increase domestic self-sufficiency rate With regard to technical development in response to climate changes, farmers should start growing agricultural products with “eco-friendly labels.” Farmers should bear in mind that each stage in the process of agricultural production from seeds, seedling, planting, to drying, storage, shipping, processing and packaging will impact both the environment and resources. Recording carbon footprints and analyzing emissions of greenhouse gases in each stage of the production process such as utilizing agricultural machinery, disposing waste in the field and using water resources and then strive to reduce emissions is one of the eco-friendly practices.

GAP (Good Agriculture Practice) label, traceability system, non-toxic cultivation, and organic farming being promoted by the agricultural agencies and local governments as well as the concept and techniques of MOA (Mokichi Okada Association) natural farming are all eco-friendly farming practices. And the government has encouraged farmers to adopt such measures by providing many financial subsidies and guidance measures. And various professional training programs arranged by the Council of Agriculture (COA) offer the best opportunity for farmers to learn new techniques and related information and understand available government resources.

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