UN-backed meeting on climate change's impact on agriculture wraps up

With climate change threatening agriculture in Asia, 10 nations met in a three-day United Nations-sponsored meeting in Hanoi, Viet Nam, to discuss sustainable farming practices to feed growing populations.

The UN World Meteorological Organization held its Regional Association Asia Working Group on Agricultural Meteorology meeting from 17-19 December, which was attended by representatives from China, Iran, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Thailand, Uzbekistan and Viet Nam.

Global warming is responsible for more frequent and serious droughts, floods and storms across Asia, and this is expected to intensify in the future. Seven of the 10 countries most affected by extreme weather events last year were Asian: the Philippines, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Indonesia, Viet Name, India, China and Afghanistan.

This year, floods in China have forced nearly 800,000 people from their homes, caused almost $400 million worth of damage and affected over 300,000 hectares of crops. Meanwhile in Bangladesh, more than 3,000 people were killed and millions were left homeless when Cyclone Sidr struck on 15 November.

"In view of the growing populations in Asia and the need for secure access to food for these populations, indoor and urban agriculture is also receiving special attention to make most efficient use of space using controlled environments," said WMO Secretary-General Michel Jarraud.

Participants conferred on issues critical to promoting sustainable agriculture in the region, including drought response, impacts of climate change, water resources, pest and diseases.

WMO recommends countries invest more in urban and indoor agriculture that can assist greatly in providing food for the hundreds of millions of people living in Asian cities whose populations are surging.

The agency also measures providing seasonal prediction and early warning systems are crucial, as well as monitoring systems for regional droughts to guide farmer's decisions on when, where and what crop is best to grow. Forecasts can also help in better managing the spread of pests and diseases.

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