Extreme weather hurts production of Filipino rice farmers

Climate Change

Countries heavily reliant on agriculture are already feeling the effects of extreme weather. According to a United Nations report the poor will be hit the hardest. Filipino farmers are among the hardest hit. CCTV America’s Barnaby Lo reported this story.

Extreme weather hurts production of Filipino rice farmers

Extreme weather hurts production of Filipino rice farmers

The developing world will take the most damage from climate change. Countries heavily reliant on agriculture are already feeling the effects of the extreme weather. Filipino farmers are among the hardest hit. CCTV America's Barnaby Lo reported this story.

For more than four decades now, 57-year old Guillermo Joson has been toiling in the vast plains of the northern Philippine province of Nueva Ecija. This region is often referred to as the country’s rice granary. But Joson says the past few years have been difficult.

“In recent years, typhoons seem to come just when we are about to harvest. When they do, they can destroy a huge portion of what we’ve planted,” he said.

And if it isn’t the deluge of water, it’s the lack of it.  El Niño- a weather pattern characterized by a dry spell may start taking its toll on Filipino farmers soon. It’s extreme weather that is being attributed, at least in part, to climate change.

Scientists say the earth’s temperature has increased by almost one degree Celsius since the Industrial Revolution. Two more degrees and it could have devastating effects, especially on agriculture. In the Philippines, this could mean an estimated 10-15 percent decrease in crop production for every increase of one degree Celsius.

“That is based on a threshold of 34, 35 degrees. And every degree above this threshold will increase sterility of rice by 10-15 percent. Sterility means the grains will be produced but they are empty,” Dr.Bjorn Ole Sander from the International Rice Research Institute said.

And as the law of supply and demand dictates, a drop in food production could drive up food prices, which in turn could mean less food on the table for those who cannot afford and for farmers, a loss in income. “Rice is our only source of income so if we are not able to harvest enough, we don’t earn enough, and our families suffer,” Joson said.

To help farmers cope with the effects of climate change, the International Rice Research Institute has been developing climate-adaptive varieties of rice as well as new irrigation techniques.