Federal Minister for Climate Change Zahid Hamid said that Pakistan is ranked 7th among the countries which are most vulnerable to the vagaries of climate, due to its geographic location and poor resource base.
In a written reply in National Assembly during the question hour, the minister said that climate change is the biggest challenge being faced by the world today and no country including Pakistan is an exception to it.
He said that the ministry has established Global Change Impact Studies Centre (GCISC), which serves as the research arm of the Ministry of Climate Change and is conducting research to assess the impacts of projected climatic changes on agriculture sector.
He said that for the impact assessment studies, various crop simulation and water management models are being employed. Climate change projections made at GCISC indicate that average temperature over Pakistan will increase in the coming decades at a pace faster than that of the average global temperature and may exceed by about 2°C by the end of this century.
“Studies carried out at GCISC point towards yield losses and reduced growing cycles in the various climatic zones of the country under the influence of increasing temperatures,” he maintained.
The water security of the country is also threatened by the climate change which further accentuates the food insecurity concerns.
Comprehensive studies have been carried out at the centre to assess the impact of climate change on various crops in different climatic zones of the country using crop simulation models. It was revealed that wheat crop yield will be reduced by 3.4-12.5 per cent in semi-arid irrigated areas (like Faisalabad and Sheikhupura), 3.8-14.5 per cent in arid areas (like Hyderabad, Badin, Bahawalpur, Multan) and more than 16 per cent in rain-fed (Chakwal) areas under different climate change scenarios towards the end of the century.
Similarly, rice yields are expected to decline by 12- 22 per cent under different climate change scenario by end of the century, the minister added.
The growing season length of these crops will also be shortened resulting in significant decline in yields.
Research studies also reflect an increase in net crop water requirements owing to the increase in temperatures and likely yield reductions call for adaptation measures to protect/ increase the yield.
Some adaptation measures like increased rate of fertilizer application, use of higher seed rate, 3-split application of fertilizer, change in sowing window, improved scheduling of irrigation and dry sowing of rice have been evaluated and have shown promise to maintain yield to a certain extent.
Studies to assess the impact of climate change on wheat, rice and maize crops in 30 districts of the country using other crop simulation models; and on evaluating the impact of climate change on livestock sector are underway.
Agriculture is also a contributor to greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) and GCISC has prepared the national GHG inventory for the year 2014-15. This inventory describes agriculture as the 2nd largest GHG emitting sector with 174.56 MT CO2 Eq. (Total 405 MT CO2 Eq.) with larger share from the livestock sub-sector.
This inventory, besides estimating that sectoral and sub-sectoral share in the total national GHG emissions will help identify the prospects and aligning national strategies for moving towards climate-smart agriculture, he added.