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Warming threatens agriculture

091021_03
Cambodian students climb up to their school from a boat at a flooded village in Kandal province.

GLOBAL warming threatens fish stocks and could slash the Kingdom’s rice supply, delegates at the National Forum on Climate Change heard Tuesday.

“Cambodia has the least-adaptive capacity compared to other Southeast Asian countries,” said Dr Rizaldi Boer, an expert in agriculture climatology at Indonesia’s Bogor Agricultural University.

Climate modelling suggests rainfall patterns in Cambodia will be impacted, prompting a later start to the important summer monsoon season and more rains overall, he said.

One estimate assuming continued high global emission levels suggests rice production in the Kingdom could drop by half a million tonnes in 2020 from the current 7 million tonnes produced yearly.

By 2080, that drop could reach 2.5 million tonnes, effectively forcing Cambodia to import its rice.

However, Cambodia can still guard against the effects by investing in adaptation measures, Boer said. Steps such as improving rice productivity and diversity, and irrigation methods could see Cambodian rice supplies continue to exceed demand under minimal temperature-change scenarios.

“Of course, it’s a matter of the money which is available to invest,” Boer said.

Strong mitigation measures, however, will require financial aid from developed countries, experts warned.

“It’s precisely those who are least responsible for causing the problem that are the most impacted,” said Bert Maerten, head of Oxfam International’s climate change campaign.

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