Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Filipinos could face mass starvation unless domestic rice production shapes up

According to a study published in a National Academy of Sciences journal, rice production in Asia is set to grow more slowly in the coming years owing to increasing global average temperatures. An Associated Press report highlights that this study is built upon an already identified trend over the last 25 years that shows a 10 to 20 percent reduction in the rate of growth in rice farm yields in some parts of Asia.
Higher daytime temperatures can increase rice yields, but higher nighttime temperatures have a negative effect. The nighttime temperatures are rising faster and will cause a net loss in productivity, said Jarrod Welch, lead author and graduate student of economics at the University of California, San Diego.

"If we cannot change our rice production methods or develop new rice strains that can withstand higher temperatures, there will be a loss in rice production over the next few decades as days and nights get hotter," Welch wrote in the study. "This will get increasingly worse as temperatures rise further towards the middle of the century."

Billions of people depend on rice as their daily. At high risk is the Philippines -- one of the world's biggest importers of rice. Domestic production cannot meet demand and a severe supply crisis in 2008 proved how vulnerable the economy is to disruptions in the global market.

If global rice producers start to cut back on exports, the Philippines will be left high and dry, literally forced to eat kamote (a local root crop seen by many Filipinos as best left to the underclass to eat).

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