Climate change worsens food security in Asia

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Climate change will compound challenges of food security for Southeast and East Asia, experts issued the warning in Beijing Tuesday.

Man Ho So, deputy regional representative of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said the region is still home to a quarter of the world's undernourished people and food security remains as a major concern.

"Climate change will compound these challenges further," as the region will be subjected to extreme weather in increasing frequency and intensity in coming decades due to climate change, said the official.

Man Ho So made the remarks during a regional workshop on climate change and food security in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) countries plus China, Japan and the Republic of Korea.

"One billion people in Asia will be affected due to changes in fresh water availability by 2050; more than 170,000 square kilometers of coast and low-lying areas in the ASEAN will be affected by rising sea levels," said the official.

Li Bo, an official from China's Ministry of Agriculture, said that climate change would pose a grave threat to China's food security.

Global warming will cause worsening water shortages in northern China, and rice-producing areas in the south will suffer floods of increasing frequency and severity, Li said.

Since the 1990s, China has suffered an annual average economic loss of over 100 billion yuan (15.2 billion U.S. dollars) in the agricultural sector due to climate disasters.

Sleet and snow in early 2008 affected 11 million hectares of crops while severe draught from late 2009 to early 2010 dried up wheat in 157 million mu (10.4 million hectares).

Experts from ASEAN, China, Japan and the ROK, along with international organizations, spoke during the workshop as they shed light on the influence of climate change on food security and called for regional cooperation.

The workshop was organized by the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences and was sponsored by the FAO, the World Meteorological Organization and the ASEAN Secretariat.

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