Agriculture in Myanmar is extremely vulnerable to climate change. The predicted rise in temperature in Myanmar is expected to have major negative impacts on agricultural production and food security. Higher temperatures will reduce yields of desirable crops (e.g. rice, wheat, maize, soybean and groundnut) and encourage weed and pest proliferation. Changes in precipitation patterns will increase the likelihood of short-term crop failures as well as long-term production declines. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change 4th Assessment Report, climate change is expected to affect agriculture in South East Asia in several ways:
- Irrigation systems will be affected by changes in rainfall and runoff, and subsequently, water quality and supply.
- Temperature increases of ~2-4°C will threaten agricultural productivity, stressing crops and reducing yields.
- Changes in temperature, moisture and carbon dioxide concentrations will negatively affect major cereal (e.g. rice, wheat, maize and millet) and tree crops.
- Increases in rice and wheat production associated with CO2 fertilization will be offset by reductions in yields resulting from temperature and/or moisture changes.
In particular, the increases in occurrence of droughts will result in crop failure in rain-fed agricultural areas and will increase the demand for irrigation. Conversely, increases in the occurrence of intense rains and resulting extreme floods will result in higher yield losses from crop damage. A rise of 1-2°C combined with lower solar radiation has the potential to cause rice spikelet sterility (i.e. infertile rice seeds). Rice becomes sterile if exposed to temperatures above 35°C for more than one hour during flowering and consequently produces no grain. This will limit rice production. Furthermore, higher temperatures will increase the incidence of crop diseases, insect pests and rodents.
The highly productive deltaic and low-lying coastal rice/local crop cultivation areas in Myanmar will not only be exposed to increased temperatures, erratic rainfall, droughts, floods and intense rains, but will also be exposed to increased salinity, coastal erosion, and inundation as a result of sea level rise. The extensive, low-lying Ayeyarwady/Yangon Deltaic regions are particularly vulnerable to sea level rise. By 2100, global sea level could rise by >0.2-0.6 m. A 0.5 m sea level rise would result in the shoreline along the Ayeyarwady Delta advancing by 10 km. This would have a significant impact on local communities and the Agriculture sector. Agricultural impacts will particularly affect low-income rural populations that depend on traditional agricultural systems or on marginal lands.
This section provides insights into the climate change impacts on agricultural productivity indicators and the trends in agriculture related socio-economic indicators.