Pakistan’s Farming Sector Faces Serious Threat From Climate Change

BE2C2 Report (Updated) — Pakistan needs to safeguard its agricultural sector from the risks of climate change, says a report.

By 2050, the wheat production is expected to fall by 50 percent in Pakistan and the region as a result of climate change, a study conducted by Islamabad-based Think Tank Jinnah Institute reveals.

“Food and security of 100 million people are at risk by climate change. Women are more vulnerable as 66 percent of them are agriculture workers, the report said.

“Given that the region is home to 40 percent of the world’s population, this will come with overwhelming consequences,” it adds.

According to the study, the risks presented by climate change has had a pronounced impact on food production throughout South Asia, not just Pakistan.

Air pollution in the region compounds these risks, experts say.

Local media outlets have reported that Pakistan’s mango and kinnow yield have been impacted due to climate change, causing damage worth millions of dollars.
The South Asia region has one of the highest pollution index, report reveals.

Climate change and pollution have cause-and-effect relationship.

An estimated 70 percent of Pakistan’s foreign exchange reserve is catered to by agriculture based activities, and 47 percent of its population is dependent on the sector.

“Livelihoods, food security and GDP are more vulnerable to the effects of erratic weather, cold spells, heat waves, windstorms, droughts and floods loom large on Pakistan’s and South Asia’s agricultural sector.

The study shows that overall wheat production in the region is expected to fall by 50 percent by the year 2050 as a result of climate change.

Given that the region is home to 40 percent of the world’s population, this will come with overwhelming consequences, the report said.

In Pakistan, the rural population accounts for nearly all of agricultural production and about 63 percent of the entire population.That makes the matter requiring imminent attention.

Pakistan’s Bureau of Statistics data revels that almost 44 per cent of the country’s labor force is involved in agriculture. The sector contributes a massive 21-25 per cent to country’s GDP.

Recent news report indicate that the country was losing grains and fruits from 20 to 40 percent as post-harvest losses due to climate change.

Pakistan is among the top ten producers of wheat, cotton, sugarcane, mango, dates and kinnow oranges, and responsible for about 10 percent of the world’s rice trade.

Livestock accounts for 40 percent of the sector and contributes 11 percent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Over 35 million people are employed by livestock sector – another sector vulnerable to pollution and climate change, experts say.

Despite Pakistan being one of the top agricultural countries, about half of the population is food insecure, according to the World Food Program – a view reinforced by Jinnah Institute’s study.

With ever increasing population (almost 190 million now), struggling water resources, decreasing agricultural labor force due to urban and overseas migration, increasing demand for food and cash crops, and the effects of pollution – all these are putting additional burden, these studies reveal.

According to experts, unless out-of-the-box solutions, consensus-based measures, and national policy initiatives are proactively taken, the sector and the demography are bound to become even more vulnerable — to pollution and climate change and their collateral effects. The Federation of Chambers of Commerce made a similar observation this month.

“At Climate Summit (COP21) held in Paris in December 2015, for unknown and incomprehensible reasons, Pakistan chose to undermine its role and remained apologetically marginalized from global negotiations. This backslide began with the scrapping of a well-researched Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) brief for a pathetic 350 word-long one-pager that was criticized as the shortest climate plan submitted by any country, and was followed by an even shorter, insipid speech delivered at the Global Leaders Forum,” said Malik Amin Aslam Khan, former minister of state for environment and the Global Vice-President of the IUCN.

In this lackluster document, which was not the original document prepared by the Ministry for Climate Change, the federal government offered no specific targets for emissions reductions, and failed to highlight Pakistan’s extreme vulnerability to the impacts of climate change (floods, droughts, sea-intrusion and glacial melt).

Pakistan is said to be looking for Chinese assistance to enhance its agriculture sector and overcome the effects of climate change under CPEC – a $56 billion north-south corridor China is building to link its western city of Kashgar in Xinjiang province with the newly-built port of Gwadar in southwestern province of Balochistan.

The USAID is already assisting Pakistan government and agriculture, livestock and poultry producers with research, grants, aids, trainings and transfer of technology.

Chinese help will count only if collective (political) will prevails.

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