IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

10.5 Adaptation: sector-specific practices, options and constraints

10.5.1 Agriculture and food security

Many studies (Parry, 2002; Ge et al., 2002; Droogers, 2004; Lin et al., 2004; Vlek et al., 2004; Wang et al., 2004a; Zalikhanov, 2004; Lal, 2007; Batima et al., 2005c) on the impacts of climate change on agriculture and possible adaptation options have been published since the TAR. More common adaptation measures that have been identified in the above-mentioned studies are summarised in Table 10.8. Generally, these measures are intended to increase adaptive capacity by modifying farming practices, improving crops and livestock through breeding and investing in new technologies and infrastructure. Specific examples include adaptation of grassland management to the actual environmental conditions as well as the practice of reasonable rotational grazing to ensure the sustainability of grassland resources (Li et al., 2002; Wang et al., 2004a; Batima et al., 2005c), improvement of irrigation systems and breeding of new rice varieties to minimise the risk of serious productivity losses caused by climate change (Ge et al., 2002), and information, education and communication programmes to enhance the level of awareness and understanding of the vulnerable groups.

Table 10.8. Adaptation measures in agriculture.

Sectors  Adaptation measures  
1°C temperature increase in June to August Choice of crop and cultivar:
  • Use of more heat/drought-tolerant crop varieties in areas under water stress
  • Use of more disease and pest tolerant crop varieties
  • Use of salt-tolerant crop varieties
  • Introduce higher yielding, earlier maturing crop varieties in cold regions
Farm management:
  • Altered application of nutrients/fertiliser
  • Altered application of insecticide/pesticide
  • Change planting date to effectively use the prolonged growing season and irrigation
  • Develop adaptive management strategy at farm level
Livestock production 
  • Breeding livestock for greater tolerance and productivity
  • Increase stocks of forages for unfavourable time periods
  • Improve pasture and grazing management including improved grasslands and pastures
  • Improve management of stocking rates and rotation of pastures
  • Increase the quantity of forages used to graze animals
  • Plant native grassland species
  • Increase plant coverage per hectare
  • Provide local specific support in supplementary feed and veterinary service
  • Breeding fish tolerant to high water temperature
  • Fisheries management capabilities to cope with impacts of climate change must be developed
Development of agricultural bio-technologies 
  • Development and distribution of more drought, disease, pest and salt-tolerant crop varieties
  • Develop improved processing and conservation technologies in livestock production
  • Improve crossbreeds of high productivity animals
Improvement of agricultural infrastructure 
  • Improve pasture water supply
  • Improve irrigation systems and their efficiency
  • Improve use/store of rain and snow water
  • Improve information exchange system on new technologies at national as well as regional and international level
  • Improve sea defence and flood management
  • Improve access of herders, fishers and farmers to timely weather forecasts

Changes in management philosophy could also enhance adaptive capacity. This is illustrated by integrating fisheries and aquaculture management into coastal zone management to increase the coping ability of small communities in East Asia, South Asia and South-East Asia to sea-level rise (Troadec, 2000).

The ability of local populations to adapt their production systems to cope with climate change will vary across Asia and will be largely influenced by the way government institutions and policies mediate the supply of, and access to, food and related resources. The adaptive capacity of poor subsistence farming/herding communities is commonly low in many developing countries of Asia. One of the important and effective measures to enhance their adaptive capacity is through education and the provision of easy access to climate change-related information.