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IRI to develop climate adaptation tools to help farmers in South and Southeast Asia

F. Fiondella/IRI
F. Fiondella/IRI

A new two-year climate change initiative, led by the International Research Institute for Climate and Society aims to help farmers in Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic and Bangladesh reduce their vulnerability to climate risks.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development is the primary project sponsor and the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has provided additional resources. The project was launched on March 27 in Bogor, Indonesia in the presence of policy makers, agricultural experts, representatives of partner institutions and the United Nations Development Programme.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, approximately 370 million people in South and Southeast Asia were chronically undernourished in 2012. Climate change is likely to push the number higher in the coming years as droughts and excessive rains disrupt growing seasons and pose a constant challenge to poor rural farmers.

The program is expected to develop new tools to help millions of farmers in the three countries. One of the tools being developed is a dynamic cropping calendar based on state-of-the-art seasonal and sub-seasonal forecasts.

“The calendar will help farmers decide which crop varieties to plant and when, as well how much land to allocate to different types of crops, given the forecast for the growing season,” says IRI’s Arthur Greene, who is the lead scientist on the project.

During the launch, delegates outlined the program’s strategy to forge inroads through innovative research, the development of climate adaptation tools and south-south collaboration. They also discussed similar initiatives, such as Indonesia’s Strategic Planning and Action to Strengthen Climate Resilience of Rural Communities in Nusa Tenggara Timor, and the National Adaptation Programme of Action in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, and the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security’s (CCAFS) demonstration site in Khulna Division, Bangladesh.

“This project provides an opportunity to engage and empower vulnerable and marginalized rural communities in managing climate risk, improving agricultural productivity and increasing food and nutrition security,” says IFAD’s Country Representative to Lao PDR, Stefania Dina.

IRI will work with the Center for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management in South East Asia and Pacific in Indonesia, the National Agriculture and Forestry Research Institute in Laos and WorldFish in Bangladesh to develop customized climate forecasts and adaptation tools that address the specific agriculture challenges faced in each country. The partners will work directly with farmers, farmer organizations and policy makers in the development of the tools and provide training on the use of the tools to deal with impacts associated with year-to-year climate variability and longer term climate change.

Lead scientist Greene added that the project would also look at the practicality of developing weather-based index insurance products for selected areas, as a ‘hedge’ against forecast uncertainty.

“Taken together, these efforts can help provide comprehensive solutions to the problems posed by a fickle climate, which can be both the farmer’s worst enemy and best friend,” Greene says.

IRI Media Contacts:
Francesco Fiondella, Sr. Communications Officer
+1 646 321 2271

IFAD Media Contacts in Lao PDR
Claire Glavey, Knowledge Management and Communication Officer
+856 (0)21 267 670

Konchay Vixathep, Country Programme Officer
+856 (0)21 267 670

UNDP Media Contact Tomi Soetjipto
+62 811 8888 14

About the International Research Institute for Climate and Society
The International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), part of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, aims to enhance society’s ability to understand, anticipate and manage the impacts of climate in order to improve human welfare and the environment, especially in developing countries. Follow @climatesociety on Twitter.

About the International Fund for Agricultural Development
The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is an international financial institution and a specialised United Nations agency dedicated to eradicating poverty and hunger in rural areas of developing countries.

About the United Nations Development Programme
UNDP is the UN’s global development network, advocating for change and connecting countries to knowledge, experience and resources to help people build a better life. We are on the ground in more than 170 countries and territories, working with them on their own solutions to global and national development challenges.


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