Global Warming Hurting South Asia's Poor

At 8 feet below sea level, Pakistan's financial capital Karachi shows up on the list of world's mega-cities threatened by global warming. Other South Asian cities likely to come under rising sea water in the next 100 years include Mumbai, Kolkata and Dhaka.

However, it's not just the big cities in South Asia that will feel the brunt of the climate change. The rural folks in India are already seeing rising crop failures, increasing poverty and frequent farmer suicides.

Addressing a regional conference in Islamabad earlier this year, Dr Rajendra Kumar Pachauri, chairman of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), said Pakistan was witnessing severe pressures on natural resources and environment.

He said: “Climatic changes are likely to exacerbate this trend. Water supply, already a serious concern in many parts of the country, will decline dramatically, affecting food production. Export industries such as fisheries will also be affected, while coastal areas risk being inundated, flooding the homes of millions of people living in low-lying areas.”

“The fact that global warming was unequivocal and there is no scope for scientific questioning, Pakistan faces potential environmental catastrophe,” said Dr Pachauri, who has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize (on behalf of the IPCC) along with former US vice-president Al Gore.

Here's a recent LA Times report on the vicious cycle of poverty in rural India:

India has long been plagued by unscrupulous moneylenders who exploit impoverished farmers. But with crops failing more frequently, farmers are left even more desperate and vulnerable.

Reporting from Jhansi, India - She stops for long stretches, lost in thought, trying to make sense of how she's been left half a person.

Sunita, 18, who requested that her family name not be used to preserve her chance of getting married, said her nightmare started in early 2007 after her father took a loan for her sister's wedding. The local moneylender charged 60% annual interest.

When the family was unable to make the exorbitant interest payments, she said, the moneylender forced himself on her, not once or twice but repeatedly over many months.

"I used to cry a lot and became a living corpse," she said.

Sunita's allegations, which the moneylender denies, cast a harsh light on widespread abuses in rural India, where a highly bureaucratic banking system, corruption and widespread illiteracy allow unethical people with extra income to exploit poor villagers, activists say.

But here in the Bundelkhand region in central India that is among the nation's more impoverished areas, the problem is exacerbated by climate change and environmental mismanagement, they say, suggesting that ecological degradation and global warming are changing human life in more ways than just elevated sea levels and melting glaciers.

"Before, a bad year would lead to a good year," said Bharat Dogra, a fellow at New Delhi's Institute of Social Sciences specializing in the Bundelkhand region. "Now climate change is giving us seven or eight bad years in a row, putting local people deeper and deeper in debt. I expect the situation will only get worse."

An estimated 200,000 Indian farmers have ended their lives since 1997, including many in this area, largely because of debt.

A 2007 study of 13 Bundelkhand villages found that up to 45% of farming families had forfeited their land, and in extreme cases some were forced into indentured servitude. Tractor companies, land mafia and bankers routinely collude, encouraging farmers to take loans they can't afford, a 2008 report by India's Supreme Court found, knowing they'll default and be forced to sell their land.

"While a few people borrow for social status or a desire to buy a new motorcycle, in most cases it's for sheer survival," Dogra said. "When they see their children starving after several years of crop failures, many feel they have no choice."

Recent amendments to a 1976 law in Uttar Pradesh state have increased the maximum punishment for unauthorized money-lending to three years in jail, up from six months, but many loan sharks are well-connected and elude prosecution. The law specifies that lenders must obtain a state license, but the requirements for obtaining it can be vague, a situation that critics say gives bureaucrats significant leeway to enact arbitrary rules and exact questionable fees.

"I take occasional loans when we're desperate," says Jhagdu, 50, a farmer in Barora, 60 miles south of Jhansi, sitting on his haunches with teeth stained red from chewing betel nut. "When there's no rain, like now, you can't repay for a year, so the amounts can double."


The South Asian governments are sufficiently concerned about potential effects of global warming to warrant a meeting to hammer out a regional response. South Asian experts on climate change held two days of talks in Dhaka last year, ahead of a meeting of environment ministers from countries of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). According to Reuters, Bangladesh has proposed the creation of a fund to fight climate change in densely populated South Asia, which experts say is vulnerable to rising seas, melting glaciers and greater extremes of droughts and floods. For the rich South Asians thinking of fleeing to real estate in Dubai, the forecast for the GCC countries is no better. Experts believe the Palm and the World projects in Dubai will disappear underwater in 50 years if the issue of climate change fails to be addressed by governments.

According to a report by the Associated Press, the nonprofit Worldwatch Institute has compiled a list of 21 "mega-cities" of 8 million people or more that are in direct danger as a result of global warming and rising seas: They include Dhaka, Bangladesh; Buenos Aires, Argentina; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Shanghai and Tianjin in China; Alexandria and Cairo in Egypt; Mumbai and Kolkata in India; Jakarta, Indonesia; Tokyo and Osaka-Kobe in Japan; Lagos, Nigeria; Karachi, Pakistan; Bangkok, Thailand, and New York and Los Angeles in the United States, according to studies by the United Nations and others.

More than one-tenth of the world's population, or 643 million people, live in low-lying areas at risk from climate change, according to U.S. and European experts. Most at risk, in descending order, are China, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, the U.S., Thailand and the Philippines.

As a nation, Bangladesh has the most to worry about the effects of climate change in South Asia. A recent story in the Guardian talks about Bangladesh as "flood-prone" because of its geography. Situated across a vast delta where three great rivers join, Bangladesh is known to be flood-prone. Not only does it have monsoon rain to deal with, but the slow warming of the earth's atmosphere is releasing more water from Himalayan glaciers above the flatlands of Bangladesh. Climate change, say scientists, also means higher tides in the Bay of Bengal. The result is trillions more liters of water sloshing over the country, depositing billions of tons of sediment. Experts say a third of Bangladesh's coastline could be flooded if the Bay of Bengal rises three feet in the next 50 years, displacing 20 million Bangladeshis from their homes and farms, according to Reuters. Across the region, warmer weather could cause more intense and more frequent cyclones and storm surges, leading to more salt water fouling waterways and farmlands, the experts said. Corp yields in South Asia could decrease up to 30 percent by the mid-21st century, they added.

Bangladesh has taken the initiative by proposing a SAARC fund for climate change and allocated US$44 million for this purpose in its current fiscal year budget. "We want to find a common stand among the South Asian countries and will raise our voice together against the perils of climate changes," said Raja Devasish Roy, head of the Environment and Forest Ministry of Bangladesh, after opening the experts' meeting in Dhaka. Devasish said industrialized countries were the most to blame for global warming and should compensate poorer nations by providing them grants -- not loans -- to fight the effects of climate change.

While Bangladesh is admirably leading the charge to address the impact of climate change, it is important that the rest of South Asians, particularly India and Pakistan, join it to protect the planet in this noble effort. As part of this challenge, it is time for SAARC leaders to think of structural changes needed for a world without oil. The SAARC nations owe it to their future generations and the rest of the planet.

Related Links:

World's Biggest Polluters

Global Warming Impact on Pakistan

Indian Rural Poverty Worsens

Climate Change Impact on Karachi, South Asian Megacities

Water Scarcity in Pakistan

Syeda Hamida of Indian Planning Commission Says India Worse Than Pakistan and Bangladesh

Global Hunger Index Report 2009

Grinding Poverty in Resurgent India

Food, Clothing and Shelter For All

India's Family Health Survey

Hunger and Undernutrition Blog

Pakistan's Total Sanitation Campaign

Is India a Nutritional Weakling?

Asian Gains in World's Top Universities

India's Vulnerability to Climate Change

South Asia Slipping in Human Development

What Does Democracy Deliver in Pakistan

Do South Asian Slums Offer Hope?

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Over 17,000 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2009, according to an Indian government report:

NEW DELHI (AFP) – More than 17,000 Indian farmers committed suicide in 2009, a seven percent rise on the previous year, according to new government figures.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) study titled "Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India" revealed the rise without attributing causes, with the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh the worst affected.

Many farmers, particularly in the southern and western states listed, were pushed further into debt in 2009 after the weakest monsoon in 37 years left fields parched and crops ruined.

Despite economic development in cities, two out of three Indians still live and work in rural areas and as many as 150,000 farmers have killed themselves in the past decade, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences said in 2009.

The subject was taken up in an acclaimed Bollywood film last year called "Peepli Live" made by the production company of superstar Aamir Khan.

The film, directed by first-time director Anusha Rizvi, revolves around two poor farmers who face losing their land over an unpaid debt after poor monsoon rains, with one considering killing himself so that his family receives compensation.

In other statistics, the study said that a total of 127,151 people took their own lives in 2009 and about 125,000 people or about 350 a day died on the country's notoriously dangerous roads.

Road deaths increased by 7.3 percent in 2009 from 2008, following a long-term trend that has seen road deaths mirror increases in vehicle sales.

Since 2005, the number of fatal road accidents has increased by 30 percent, tracking a 35-percent rise in the number of vehicles.

India's booming economy is raising personal incomes and corporate profits, enabling middle-class consumers and businesses to invest in greater numbers of cars, vans and lorries.

However, as a study published in the British medical journal The Lancet last week pointed out, economic change sometimes produces harmful behavioural shifts, such as driving faster and further without due regard to safety.

The head of the National Safety Council of India (NSCI), K.C. Gupta, told AFP last September that changing attitudes was a "huge job" but that economic development would lead to more awareness.

India's generally bumpy and overcrowded roads remain poorly policed and chaotic in nature.

Whole families are often found crammed onto a single motorbike -- with only the father wearing a helmet -- while the overloading of trucks and buses is endemic.

A total of 175 people died of starvation and thirst in 2009, 261 in bombings, 25,911 from drowning, 8,539 from electrocution and 1,826 had fatal falls into manholes or pits. Around 8,000 died from snake or other animal bites.

Experts warn that government statistics in India should be treated with caution because of inefficient public administration in many areas, meaning accidents go unreported.
Riaz Haq said…
DG Geological Survey says list of cities under threat has been handed over to respective district governments, according to The Express Tribune:

ISLAMABAD: The Director General of Pakistan Geological Survey, Dr Imran Ahmed Khan says an earthquake of a magnitude of 6.5 or higher might hit Pakistan this year, Express News reported on Monday.

Dr Khan, who was briefing the Standing Committee on Petroleum, said major cities of Pakistan were located on the fault line, which also crosses the centre of Margalla Hills.

The director general said the list of cities under threat has been handed over to the respective district governments.

He added that the government had been informed of the Attabad landslide four months before the incident happened.

He further that that climatic change is melting glaciers at a faster rate.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a report on Pakistan climate change policy:

Disaster-prone Pakistan has launched its first ever national policy on climate change, detailing how it plans to tackle the challenges posed by global warming, mitigate its risks and adapt key sectors of the country's economy to cope with its consequences.

Pakistan is highly vulnerable to weather-related disasters such as cyclones, droughts, floods, landslides and avalanches. Devastating floods in 2010 disrupted the lives of 20 million people – many more than the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami – and cost $10 billion.

The climate change policy, developed with the support of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), recommends some 120 steps the country could take to slow down the impact of global warming, as well as adapt sectors such as energy, transport and agriculture.

Measures include flood forecasting warning systems, local rainwater harvesting, developing new varieties of resilient crops, promoting renewable energy sources and more efficient public transport.

"The National Climate Change policy takes into account risks and vulnerabilities of various development sectors with specific emphasis on water, food, energy and national security issues," said Rana Mohammad Farooq Saeed Khan, Minister for Climate Change at the launch of the policy is Islamabad on Tuesday.

But the policy needs a concrete action plan to back it up, with details, budgets and timelines first, some newspaper commentators said, adding that only then could there be a chance of effective implementation.

Questions have also arisen about where the money to fund implementation will come from and whether Pakistan's provinces have the capacity and expertise to put it in place.

Last year, a major U.N. report said the world needed to prepare better to deal with extreme weather and rising seas caused by climate change, in order to save lives and limit deepening economic losses.
UNDP's Pakistan Director Marc-André Franche said addressing changing weather patterns would help the country's economic development.

"Pakistan is among the most vulnerable countries facing climate risks and mechanisms need to be devised for greener, more resilient options for growth and sustainable development, said Franche at the launch.

"I hope the policy will help key stakeholders in identifying capacities and skills for the successful implementation of the policy," he added.


http://www.trust.org/alertnet/news/pakistan-launches-first-national-climate-change-policy

http://undp.org.pk/images/documents/National%20Climate%20Change%20Policy%20of%20Pakistan.pdf
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from a World Bank report titled "Turn Down the Heat" released today:

The projected increase in the seasonality of precipitation is associated with an increase in the number of dry days, leading to droughts that are amplified by continued warming, with adverse consequences for human lives. Droughts are
expected to pose an increasing risk in parts of the region.
Although drought projections are made difficult by uncertain
precipitation projections and differing drought indicators, some
regions emerge to be at particularly high risk. These include north-western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over southern India, increasing wetness is projected with broad agreement
between climate models.


http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/06/14/000333037_20130614104709/Rendered/PDF/784220WP0Engli0D0CONF0to0June019090.pdf

Here's more from Daily Times:

The report has been prepared for the WB by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide.

The report said that unless action is taken now to limit carbon release in the atmosphere, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production.

“Events like the devastating Pakistan floods of 2010, which affected more than 20 million people, could become common place,” the report said.

A warming climate will contribute to slowing the reduction in poverty, while the lives of everyone in the region will be altered by climate change, the impacts of progressive global warming will fall hardest on the poor.

Low crop yields and associated income loss from agriculture will continue the trend toward migration from rural to urban centers. In cities, the poor will suffer with temperatures magnified by the so-called ‘heat island effect’ of the built environments.

Safe drinking water will become increasingly constrained and alternatives, especially during and after flooding, are likely to contribute to greater water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.

The report cited Bangladesh, already threatened by frequent floods and extreme weather, as just one of more ‘potential impact hotspots’ threatened by extreme river floods, more intense tropical cyclones, rising sea levels and very high temperatures.

India’s two largest coastal cities, Kolkata and Mumbai, face a similar fate.

With South Asia close to the equator, the sub-continent would see much higher rises in sea levels than higher latitudes, with the Maldives confronting the biggest increases of between 100-115 centimeters. Pakistan would suffer the most extreme increases in heat. .


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C06%5C20%5Cstory_20-6-2013_pg5_5
Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt from a World Bank report titled "Turn Down the Heat" released today:

The projected increase in the seasonality of precipitation is associated with an increase in the number of dry days, leading to droughts that are amplified by continued warming, with adverse consequences for human lives. Droughts are
expected to pose an increasing risk in parts of the region.
Although drought projections are made difficult by uncertain
precipitation projections and differing drought indicators, some
regions emerge to be at particularly high risk. These include north-western India, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Over southern India, increasing wetness is projected with broad agreement
between climate models.


http://www-wds.worldbank.org/external/default/WDSContentServer/WDSP/IB/2013/06/14/000333037_20130614104709/Rendered/PDF/784220WP0Engli0D0CONF0to0June019090.pdf

Here's more from Daily Times:

The report has been prepared for the WB by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Climate Analytics and peer reviewed by 25 scientists worldwide.

The report said that unless action is taken now to limit carbon release in the atmosphere, South Asia would suffer more extreme droughts and floods, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, and declines in food production.

“Events like the devastating Pakistan floods of 2010, which affected more than 20 million people, could become common place,” the report said.

A warming climate will contribute to slowing the reduction in poverty, while the lives of everyone in the region will be altered by climate change, the impacts of progressive global warming will fall hardest on the poor.

Low crop yields and associated income loss from agriculture will continue the trend toward migration from rural to urban centers. In cities, the poor will suffer with temperatures magnified by the so-called ‘heat island effect’ of the built environments.

Safe drinking water will become increasingly constrained and alternatives, especially during and after flooding, are likely to contribute to greater water-borne diseases such as cholera and diarrhoea.

--
In Pakistan the WB is working with federal and provincial governments to create better understanding and raise awareness of climate change risks and mitigation actions. At the policy level, it has provided advisory services to the Ministry of Climate Change towards the preparation of a National Climate Change Action Plan.

It is currently supporting the Federal Flood Commission in updating its National Flood Management Plan in the wake of floods of 2010 and 2011.

At the community levels, the Bank is extending a carbon finance program through Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP), to help half of the population in the Chitral district access clean energy generated through hydropower.

However, the WB officials have expressed confidence that countries can roll back harmful fossil fuel subsidies and help put the policies in place that will eventually lead to a reduction in emissions.

“I am convinced we can reduce poverty even in a world severely challenged by climate change,” said WB Group President Jim Yong Kim. “We can help cities grow clean and climate resilient, develop climate smart agriculture practices, and find innovative ways to improve both energy efficiency and the performance of renewable energies..


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013%5C06%5C20%5Cstory_20-6-2013_pg5_5
Riaz Haq said…
Women nurture saplings, earn income reforesting #Pakistan with billion trees in #KP. #PTI #ImranKhan #climatechange http://fw.to/AWpdL5M

Robina Gul has swapped her needle for a trowel. Until recently, the villager from northern Pakistan got by making clothes for family weddings and religious festivals, but now she is encouraging other women to set up tree nurseries like hers that can earn them a handsome monthly income.

Gul is growing some 25,000 saplings of 13 different species crammed into the small courtyard of her two-room house in Najaf Pur, a village of around 8,000 people in the Haripur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

"It gives me immense pleasure to look after the saplings as this has changed my whole life," said Gul, 35. "It has become a hobby for me and a source of income too."...

She set up the nursery at her home in March last year under an agreement with the provincial forest department. The government provides around a quarter of the start-up cost for poor households to set up a tree nursery, with a subsidy amounting to 150,000 rupees ($1,429.93) each over a year.


They first get black polythene bags from the forest department to fill with mud and manure, followed by seeds and training on how to sow them and tend to the trees.

"I am now getting over 12,000 rupees per month [from the subsidy], just by looking after the saplings in my home," Gul said. "I have also acquired the skills I need to grow different seedlings, and this will help me earn enough even after the project is wound up."

The provincial government is planning to spend 21 billion rupees from its budget through to May 2018, when its term ends, on a project called the "Billion Tree Tsunami." The goal is to plant 1 billion trees in degraded forest areas and on private land.

The project is part of the Green Growth Initiative launched in February 2014 in Peshawar by former international cricket star Imran Khan, who is chairman of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, which governs the province.

The initiative aims to boost local economic development in a way that uses natural resources sustainably, with a focus on increasing clean energy uptake and forest cover.

The government has turned forest restoration into a business model by outsourcing nurseries to the private sector, including widows, poor women, and young people. This provides the government with saplings to plant, as well as green jobs for the community.

At the same time, illegal logging has been almost eliminated in the province following strict disciplinary action against some officials who were involved. Other measures include hiring local people to guard forests and banning wood transportation.

According to government data, Pakistan has forest cover on 4.4 million hectares (10.87 million acres) or 5 percent of its land area, while the current rate of deforestation is 27,000 hectares per year, one of the highest in the world.

The forestry sector contributed $1.3 billion to Pakistan's economy in 2011, or around 0.6 percent of GDP, while employing some 53,000 people directly, according to Global Forest Watch.

In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, individuals interested in setting up a small-scale nursery of 25,000 plants are selected by Village Development Committees.

The provincial government guarantees to buy the saplings they grow, according to Malik Amin Aslam, adviser to Khan and global vice president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

"The government provides seeds and all relevant technical assistance to the beneficiaries, and then buys back one-year-old saplings at a fixed price of six rupees per seedling," he said.

So far, there are 1,747 private and 280 government-run nurseries in the province, with a planting stock of 45 million and 165 million saplings respectively, he said.

Aslam said the government had planted 115 million saplings so far and sown seeds for 300 million more at a cost of 1.5 billion rupees, with a survival rate of over 80 percent ...
Riaz Haq said…
#India Farmer Suicides Up 42% In 2015. Over 300,000 #Indian #farmers' #suicides since 1995. #Modi #BJP #AchcheDin

http://www.indiaspend.com/cover-story/farmer-suicides-up-42-in-2015-second-consecutive-drought-year-43358


Monday, January 02, 2017


Suicides by farmers in India increased 42%, while those by agricultural labourers declined 32% in 2015, a second consecutive drought year after 2014, according to data on accidental deaths and suicides in India, released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on December 30, 2016.

Indebtedness was listed as the primary reasons for suicides by farmers (3,097), while “family problems” was the leading reason for suicides by farm workers (1,843).

Suicides by farmers and agricultural labourers combined increased 2% over an year to 12,602 in 2015 from 12,360 in 2014. More farmers than agricultural labourers committed suicide in 2015–8007 farmers (64%) and 4595 farm workers (34%). In 2014, 54% were farm workers.

More than 300,000 Indian farmers have committed suicide since 1995, the year NCRB began recording data on farm suicides.


Source: Report on Accidental Deaths and Suicides, NCRB 2015

The average landholding declined 20% over 15 years, from 1.41 hectare in 1995 to 1.15 hectare in 2010, according to the latest agricultural census, Factly.in, a data journalism portal, reported in December 2015.

These data indicate marginal farmers also work as farm workers, potentially blurring the distinction between farmer and farm worker.

After declining 32% over four years to 2013, farmer suicides rise again

Farmer suicides reduced 32% from 2009 till 2013–a good monsoon year–after which they have increased every year.

As many as 17,368 farmers and agricultural labourers committed suicide in 2009, a drought year nationwide. Suicides declined to 11,772 in 2013, rising 5% to 12,360 in 2014 and 8% over two years to 12,602 in 2015.


Source: Historical reports on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, NCRB 2015

Maharashtra reports most farmer suicides, 7 years in succession (at least)

For the seventh year in succession at least (data prior to 2008 are currently unavailable on the NCRB website), more farmers committed suicide in Maharashtra (4,291) in 2015 than any other state, rising 7% from 4,004 in 2014, followed by Karnataka (1,569) and Telangana (1,400).

Karnataka registered a 100% rise with 1,569 suicides in 2015.


Source: Report on Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India, NCRB 2015

Gujarat, Kerala, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu were among the big states that reported a fall in farmer suicides. Farmer and farm worker suicides in Gujarat halved, from 600 in 2014 to 301 in 2015.

Failure of crops kills 1,500 farmers in 2015

Apart from indebtedness, which is the primary reason listed in the data, crop failure is the next leading reason listed in the suicides of 1,562 farmers in 2015.

As many as 842 farmers reportedly committed suicide due to various illnesses, while 330 farmers killed themselves due to drugs and alcohol, according to the data.

Suicides due to bankruptcy more than doubled to 3,097 in 2015 from 1,163 in 2014. Suicides after crop failure increased 60%, from 969 to 1,562 over the same period.

Only four states–Maharashtra with 1,293, Karnataka with 946, Telangana with 632 and Andhra Pradesh with 154–among 29 states registered more than 100 suicides by farmers due to indebtedness.

Of 12,602 farmers and labourers who committed suicide, 92% or 11,584 were male, while 1,018 were female.

“Family problems” was the second-leading cause for suicides by women farmers, accounting for 18% of deaths reported.

About 896, or 20% of suicides by agricultural labourers and 899, or 11% farmers suicides, were from ‘other causes’ and ‘causes not known’.
Riaz Haq said…
Poor #Farmers -- Unlike Rich -- Face Uphill Battle With #Pakistan's Climate Extremes. #ClimateChange #Agriculture

http://www.voanews.com/a/poor-farmers-uphill-battle-pakistan-climate-extremes/3784698.html

Three years ago he stopped growing rice on the farm in Bakrani, a village a few miles from Larkana, in southern Pakistan's Sindh province. The crop was too labor-intensive, and took too long to get to harvest, he said.

Now he squeezes out a living for his family cultivating vegetables that grow more quickly and require less water.

"In view of the rapidly changing weather and upheaval in it, growing a six-month rice crop that requires huge irrigation and care was not a viable option compared to growing vegetables," he said.


Land, money, education

Richer farmers, with more land, money and education, meanwhile, are finding the switch easier. That reality suggests Pakistan may face a future where an uncertain climate forces the poor - who cultivate over 80 percent of the country's agricultural land - out of farming unless they get help, experts say.

Failing small farms could undermine government efforts to achieve sustainable agriculture and food security, and to eradicate poverty, hunger and malnutrition, experts warn.

"Providing the poor farmers with required technical, financial and institutional support ... is key," said Khuda Bakhsh, an agriculture scientist at the COMSATS Institute of Information Technology in Vehari, in Punjab province.

In Bakrani, Assadullah, after abandoning rice, is growing traditional varieties of cauliflower, spinach, green chilli, cabbage, tomatoes and onion. He says that in his village many farmers with larger plots of land are adopting water conservation technologies, such as drip irrigation.

He would like to join them, but the installation costs "up to $700 per hectare" are too high, he says.

But 80 kilometers (50 miles) east, in Khairpur, 38-year-old Nawaz Somroo is using lasers to grow more cotton on his father's more than 80 hectares of land.

Agricultural studies

Unlike the self-trained Assadullah, Somroo is a graduate in agricultural science from Faisalabad Agriculture University, one of the Pakistan's top agricultural schools.

With his education and access to more money, Somroo has been able to adopt improved cotton varieties with higher yields. He uses the latest laser technology to make his fields level, which helps him reduce water consumption by nearly 60 percent.

Somroo said that until 2012 his father cultivated a traditional cotton variety. But at the university, Somroo learned about a seed variety bio-engineered to be pest resistant and introduced it on the family farm. Yields jumped by about a third.

---
But resource-poor farmers could be encouraged to stay in farming through things like on-farm demonstrations, help diversifying crops and adjusting the timing of cultivation, and better access to new crop varieties and water management techniques, he said.

Credit schemes for small-scale farmers and subsidised access to technology could also help, he noted.

He said a recent CIMMYT study showed that farmers who adapted to changing weather had achieved 8-13 percent better food security than those who did not, and poverty was 3-6 percent lower.

Programs to help

Pakistani provincial agriculture departments have launched a few programs to boost farmers' ability to cope with climate change.

Starting this year, a three-year World Bank-funded effort is underway to help 16,000 small-scale farmers in Sindh province adapt their livestock and vegetable farming, said Sohail Anwar Siyal, the Sindh provincial agriculture minister.

The $88 million scheme aims to improve the productivity and market access of small- and medium-scale farmers by improving their knowledge and access to technology.

Late last year, Punjab's chief minister also launched programs to help farmers with everything from new financial support to a distribution of more than 5 million smartphones.

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