Press Release by IFPRI.

Climate change will put an additional 2 million people in the Philippines at risk of hunger by 2050 and cost about Php 145 billion annually over that time span, according to a pair of studies from the International Food Policy Research Institute. But the research also shows that effective policies can reduce those impacts. Reforming agricultural trade policies and eliminating rice subsidies; investing in research and development to increase crop productivity; and expanding irrigation can mitigate some of the worst damage from climate change.

Total crop production is estimated to be 1.7 percent lower than it would without climate change, which is particularly troublesome in light of the Philippines’ growing population. The Philippine Statistics Authority projects the population will top 142 million by 2045—a more than 50 percent increase since 2010. Corn production is projected to be 13 percent lower in 2050 than it would be without climate change and rice 3.2 percent lower.

As climate change affects production, it also affects prices. Substantial increases are projected by 2050 for cereals (24 percent), fruits and vegetables (13 percent), and meat (4 percent) compared with their projected prices without climate change.

“The question isn’t whether climate change will negatively impact agriculture in the Philippines; the question is to what degree,” said Mark Rosegrant, director of IFPRI’s Environment and Production Technology Division and lead author of one of the studies. “Agriculture accounts for one-third of employment in the Philippines and the country is particularly susceptible to the effects of changes in climate. Policymakers need to plan for these impacts and design policies to counter the damage.”

Some negative climate effects could be mitigated by the adoption of technologies such as optimizing fertilizer use, planting climate-smart seeds that are more resistant to drought and heat, or changing planting dates. These methods could increase rice yields by 6 percent and corn yields by 4 percent, while more advanced technologies could boost rice production by more than 20 percent.

Without adaptation policies, however, climate change will have a large and negative effect on maize production in the Philippines, and a modestly negative effect on rice, sugarcane, and bananas. Conversely, coconut production looks to rise slightly.

“The effects of climate change will vary quite dramatically depending on the region and crop, but our models are designed to help policymakers make the right investments today to mitigate climate consequences in the future,” said Timothy Thomas, IFPRI research fellow and lead author of the other study, “Agricultural Growth, Climate Resilience, and Food Security in the Philippines.”

The study, released at COP22 in Marrakesh, Morocco, also notes that there is an additional economic cost to climate change in lost productivity. The World Bank estimates that these loses can be as high as 10 percent of income over a lifetime.

Photo: Wayne S. Grazio CC BY-NC-ND 2.0