Oxfam has warned that ASEAN economic integration, which will create a single market where goods, workforce and capital can flow freely, could slow down if it failed to calculate the impact of climate change on agriculture in the region.

It says in its new “Harmless Harvest” report that sustainable agriculture will help ASEAN nations cope in a changing climate. Sustainable agriculture will boost farmers’ incomes and ensure food security without racking up huge quantities of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which are behind global warming.

“Sustainable agriculture is a key ingredient for ASEAN economic integration to succeed,” Oxfam’s Grow campaign policy coordinator, Riza Bernabe, said on Tuesday.

He said as countries worked together as one economic entity, so must they act together to boldly face the impact of climate change on a region that engaged in food production and agricultural trade.

“Sustainable agriculture will help beef up Southeast Asia’s resilience in a changing climate,” Bernabe said.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports many economies in ASEAN rely on the agriculture sector, and the effect of climate change on the sector is expected to result in a mean drop of 2.2 percent in the gross domestic product of several countries in Southeast Asia by 2100.

Oxfam says poor food producers in different parts of the region have had a front seat view to the consequences of extreme weather events or slow-onset impacts, which are becoming more and more ordinary because of climate change.

Oxfam’s report found that in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam, rainfall has been below average since 2009, resulting in droughts, which are associated with lower yields and increased pest and disease infestation. (ebf)(++++) — The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

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