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Sustainable agriculture is Asean’s best bet against climate change

Cover Photo for Harmless Harvest Credit - TRAN THIET DUNG

 

The success of the economic integration of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) starting June this year rests largely on how ready it is to deal with climate change. The effect of climate change on agriculture is expected to result in a mean drop of 2.2% in the GDPs of Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam in 2100, according to IPCC Fifth Assessment Report (AR5). Disasters, which are becoming ordinary because of climate change, have racked up 3.5 trillion US dollars in economic losses in the last three decades.

Our new paper, Harmless Harvest, calls for Asean to act together by spreading the word of sustainable agriculture as the backbone of the integration. Agriculture accounts for about one third of the Gross Domestic Product of Myanmar, Lao PDR and Cambodia in 2010. It employs between a third and half of the labor force in Cambodia, Viet Nam, Thailand, Indonesia, and the Philippines. Sustainable agriculture – producing food without harming its source – will help Asean brace for climate change, as well as help arrest the impact of climate change.

Poor food producers across the region depend on agriculture for their livelihood and survival, and they are already feeling the wrath and whims of climate change. For example, seasonality – or the predictable behavior of the weather which allows farmers to plan which crops to plant at what time – is becoming more and more a thing of the past. Disasters wipe out entire coconut plantations, such as what happened during supertyphoon Haiyan, in one fell swoop.

SRI Photo Credit- Simon Rawles and OxfamAsean can help these farmers – and its economic integration – become ready for climate change (climate adaptation) by building on their sustainable agriculture practices. Instead of subscribing to the blueprint of industrial agriculture, Asean must look to sustainable agriculture to feed families without any more releasing carbon into the atmosphere and scrambling up the global weather system for good.

Asean must include women food producers when developing adaptation projects. Women comprise at least 43% of total food producers, but do not receive the same support from governments as men. Women food producers are often mistakenly counted primarily as housewives, governing the domain of household chores and child-rearing, and are therefore shut out of livelihood projects.

 

Read the full Harmless Harvest here: http://bit.ly/1IUVOdd

 

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