Community Perceptions of the Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture in Myanmar’s Central Dry Zone


January 13, 2018 - Aung Tun Oo

Aung Tun Oo. 2018. Community Perceptions of the Impacts of Climate Change on Agriculture in Myanmar’s Central Dry Zone. Food Security Policy Myanmar Project Research Highlight 13. East Lansing: Michigan State University

Our research paints a troubling picture. Communities in the CDZ overwhelmingly report that climatic conditions have changed over the past 30 years. More erratic or decreasing rainfall and increasing temperature are the most widely reported changes. Climate events including flooding, drought, late onset of the monsoon, hailstorms and cyclones/storms, all of which have the potential to impact agricultural production negatively, are all reported to have increased in frequency in large numbers of communities.

Crops yields were found to vary very significantly with climatic conditions. All major crops had yields between two and 5.8 times lower under bad climate conditions than under good conditions. Among all crops, dry season rice yields varied least between good and bad years, likely reflecting the attenuating effects of irrigation access. Sesame yields were most severely affected.

Years with “average” climate conditions were most common, but the reported trends described above suggest that conditions may be worsening over time. Our rough estimate of the range of gross farm revenues under differing climatic conditions suggests that farm incomes could by impacted significantly by these trends.

The uptake of a variety of adaptation measures was reported, indicating that communities have not responded passively to the observed impacts of climate change on agriculture. The adoption of short-duration rice varieties is the most significant of these, being reported in 40% of communities. This suggests that farm households are receptive to the adoption of new innovations that can help them to minimize climate risk, when these prove effective and appropriate to local conditions.

A variety of improved water management practices and the use of drought tolerant varieties were also identified as adaptation measures in significant numbers of communities. The importance of local crop varieties adapted to local climatic conditions was also apparent.

These findings highlight the need for greater attention to the challenges posed to agriculture in the CDZ by a changing climate, but they also show that farmers and the communities of which they are part are capable of adapting to these pressures. To support this process, further research on locally adapted climate tolerant crop varieties is required. This effort should take into account existing indigenous knowledge, farming practices and genetic resources.

The increasing intensity and variability of climate events and reductions in rainfall must also be consciously incorporated into the design of irrigation strategies and irrigation infrastructure development and renovation plans.



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