Top experts warn of looming food insecurity in S Asia

Gulf Times, June 28, 2011
Experts and environmentalists in Dhaka yesterday pleaded for combined regional efforts to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change for ensuring food security in the South Asia region.

They said the regional food production will face a threat in the coming days due to global warming and only the combined efforts involving governments, NGOs and forums like South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation (Saarc) might address the emerging food crisis in the region.

Practical Action, Bangladesh, and Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International, India jointly organised the regional workshop on ‘Climate change and food security in South Asia’.

Chaired by environmentalist Dr Atiq Rahman, the workshop was addressed, among others, by Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies (BIDS) research director Dr Assaduzzaman, project director of World Wide Fund for Nature in India Sumit Roy, executive director of Centre for Environment and Development, Sri Lanka Uchita de Zoysa and senior programme officer of South Asia Watch on Trade, Economics and Environment in Nepal Parash Kharel.

Dr Rahman in his presidential address put emphasis on taking adaptation and mitigation programs to cope with the adverse impacts of climate change in the South Asia region.

Defining adaptation, he said there are four levels of adaptation – people, ecosystem, institution and private entrepreneurs based. Adaptation must be taken at all levels to address the problems of climate change.

He recommended taking different adaptation programmes considering the vulnerability of different locations. “The vulnerabilities of Rajasthan desert in India, the Himalayans belt, and flood prone area and coastal region of Bangladesh will not be the same. So, different adaptation programmes would have to be taken,” he added.

Dr Rahman, executive director of Bangladesh Centre for Advance Studies (BCAS), said climate change poses threat to food production and the less food production poses threat to the food security.

He said that half of the farmers in South Asia are illiterate and they will be the worse victims of climate change. “Climate change is faster than the knowledge process. Farmers’ knowledge is fundamental.”

The environmental expert stressed strengthening of the capability of the farmers by disseminating knowledge and information related to climate change with a view to producing more foodgrains.

Highlighting the erratic behaviour of climate, Dr Rahman said: “Rainfall coming at the wrong time is not similar to rain.”

This news item can also be viewed at: