Saturday, February 12, 2011

Philippine food security, climate change and the Tibetan Plateau

Rolando T. DY, Executive Director Center for Food and Agri-Business UA&P in the Philippine Star: Is there a relationship between the distant Himalayas and Philippine food security? If so, what are the implications on climate change?

… The melting of the Tibetan glaciers will have global repercussions. River flows could eventually decline and cut rice production. These could even spur conflicts among countries regarding water rights. The major rice exporters such as Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Cambodia and Myanmar will have less rice surpluses. China could become a major rice importer. Thailand could have lower surplus, too, as the upper reaches of Chao Phraya will be affected. World rice prices will skyrocket.

…Specifically for the Philippines, there is a compelling need for a national food security plan. The plan could cover the following:
  • Push for an ASEAN food security plan that gives rice-deficit countries (Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, etc.) the right of first refusal for the rice exports of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar.
  • Launch productivity drive for all food staples, coupled with marketing information campaign that other food staples (white corn, potato, cassava, banana, and gabi) are as nutritious as rice. Remote communities must attain a high level of food sufficiency due to distance, transport cost and carbon footprint.
  • Craft an agenda that combine food security and nutrition security. Energy source from food staples is inadequate and create a false sense of nutrition security.
  • Craft watershed management-water supply framework in the context of supply chain of water from source to sea.
  • Invest in research and development for rice and diversification of food supply. A key to this is support to the International Rice Research Institute and the Philippines’ Rice Research Institute for drought tolerant and flood-resistant varieties. Access technologies and best practices for crops from the international Center for Research into Semi-arid Tropics (ICRISAT) in India, the International Center for Potatoes (CIP) in Peru, and (Brazilian Agriculture Research Corp.
Gathering plucked ripe fruits at the foot of the tree (Zamboanga del Sur, Mindanao, Philippines). Photo by Rizza Ayavoo, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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