Climate Change Centre to help farmers adapt to new challenges


Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR(Dawn): The University of Agriculture Peshawar has recently established the Climate Change Centre to conduct studies and research on climate change and cope with the challenges posed by changing weather patterns.

“Climate change is defining human development challenges of our time because the earth’s climate is changing and its manifestation is changes in weather systems, patterns of precipitation and temperatures which result in both creating opportunities and threats to local livelihoods,” the centre’s director Dr Jawad Ali told Dawn on Wednesday.

The centre will inform the farmers about changing climatic patterns so they could adapt to the new challenges, he said, adding that agriculture in Pakistan was highly sensitive to climatic changes.

Warmer temperature increases the frequency, intensity and duration of heat waves, which can affect crops and farming systems while changes in the patterns and amount of rainfall as well as in the timing and amount of stream flows can affect the quality and quantity of water and farm production. Therefore, it is important to learn to live with these changes, make use of the opportunities and deal with the threats to prevent losses, he elaborated.

Dr Ali said that Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change due to a huge agro-ecological diversity. He said that a major portion of population lived in rural areas and was dependant on farming and livestock for their livelihoods.

Centre initiates coordinated research activities with national and international research institutions
“Changes in temperature and uncertain hydrological patterns are expected to affect food security and access to water and the farmers need to be supported in finding and developing adequate responses to the new challenges for ensuring their food security and resilience to climate change,” he said.

The centre’s director said that it had initiated coordinated research activities, including creating linkages with national and international research institutions, developing district-wise climate scenarios, establishment of wheat trials in water scarce areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and training of faculty members on climate change adaptation planning.

He said that establishment of an online knowledge repository was in progress where several useful documents on climate change issues would be available for reference.

“We are also establishing a roundtable where farmers, government agencies, development agencies and researchers will share information and discuss ideas for research on climate change issues,” he said.

Dr Ali, who has done his PhD from the University of Life Sciences Norway, said that the CCC was the first of its kind in the province to initiate focused research on climate change adaptation and provide information to the farmers on how to cope with the challenges.

At present, the centre is in its establishment phase and being supported by a Swiss international NGO, Intercooperation Pakistan, financially and technically. The varsity’s vice-chancellor, Prof Zahoor Ahmad Swati, said that Pakistan was the sixth most populous country in the world and faced critical challenges as a result of climate change.

“According to the Global Climate Risk Index 2012, Pakistan ranks third on the list of the most vulnerable countries to climate change and its exposure to risks is exacerbated by the fact that most of its population lives in rural areas and most of our economy is based on agriculture which is very sensitive to climate change,” he said.

Pakistan is a low income country and local capacity to deal with risks is inadequate, which enhances the negative effects of climate change on livelihoods, Dr Swati said, adding that water availability, food security and human healthcare would most likely to be negatively affected by climate change.

He said that the main focus of the centre at the moment was to obtain resources for recruitment of experts on climate change and to initiate urgent research work with the farmers.

Published: November 13th , 2014

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