The Adaptation Challenge: Key issues for crop production and agricultural livelihoods under climate change in the Russian Federation | Agriculture

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Climate change has serious implications for global food production and food security. This report uses data on current changes and future scenarios to examine possible impacts on crop production in the Russian Federation. It considers what measures Russia might need to make to achieve its aim of playing a leading role in ensuring global food security. Oxfam carried out interviews with farmers in Russia to research ways in which they are adapting to new climatic conditions and to identify the problems those conditions are posing, particularly to smallholders. This report considers what more should be done to support their efforts to boost their resilience and contribute to national food security.
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  OXFAM RESEARCH REPORTS OCTOBER 2012 Oxfam Research Reports  are written to share research results, to contribute to public debate and to invite feedback on development and humanitarian policy and practice. They do not nec-essarily reflect Oxfam policy positions. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of Oxfam.  www.oxfam.org THE ADAPTATION CHALLENGE Key issues for crop production and agricultural livelihoods under climate change in the Russian Federation Worker with combine harvester, Rubtsovsk, Altay Krai, 2011. Photo: Anna Moiseenko Climate change has serious implications for global food production and food security. Part One of this report uses scientific data on current changes and future scenarios to examine possible impacts on crop production in the Russian Federation. It considers what measures Russia might need to implement to achieve its desired aim of playing a leading role in ensuring global food security. Part Two uses interviews with farmers to highlight ways in which they are adapting to new climatic conditions, but also the problems those conditions are posing, particularly to smallholders. It considers what more should be done to support their efforts to boost their resilience and contribute to national food security.   2 The Adaptation Challenge: Key issues for crop production and livelihoods under climate change in the Russian Federation CONTENTS Executive Summary  ...................................................................... 3  Main findings of the report ....................................................................................................... 3 Recommended measures to increase the resilience of Russian agriculture for adaptation to climate change .......................................................................................................................... 5 Part 1  .............................................................................................. 7  1.1 Characteristics of changing climate .................................................................................... 8 1.2 Current and near-future climate change impacts on crop production ............................. 12 1.3 Long-term climate change impacts on crop production ................................................... 17 Part 2  ............................................................................................ 22  2.1 Solitary struggle: farmers facing climate change in the Russian regions .......................... 23 Annex 1: List of participants .................................................................................................... 34 Annex 2: Questionnaire for semi-structured interviews......................................................... 36 Bibliography ............................................................................................................................ 37 Notes ....................................................................................................................................... 38   The Adaptation Challenge: Key issues for crop production and livelihoods under climate change in the Russian Federation 3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ‘Russia is ready to assume a leading role in addressing yet another global task – food security. We should not allow food shortages or excessive price hikes on world food, which… is something we have witnessed in recent years. Russia, with its vast crop areas, the largest in the world, has significant capabilities. We invite all investors, all potential partners to cooperate in this sphere. 1   Dmitry Medvedev, Prime Minister of the Russian Federation at Rio+20, June 2012 ‘Agriculture has simply fallen out of favour. Everyone has rushed to earn money – no one thinks about developing agriculture [any more]. I hope new people will come into farming…This is what has happened to nature: social and economic changes go hand in hand with climate changes’ Elena, female, 42, self-employed farmer, Altay Republic In the face of the threat of climate change, can Russia use its resources and play a key role in ensuring global food security? This research report provides an analysis of the impacts of current and future climate change on crop production in Russia, and on Russia’s aspiration to become a leading global food producer. The report is comprised of two parts. The first aims at assessing the extent of the actual and potential impacts of climate changes on crop production in the Russian Federation and also what potential Russia has to supply agricultural products to the world market under certain projected climate conditions. The second is an analysis of the results of qualitative research based on interviews with smallholder farmers from Altay Republic (West Siberia economic area), Republic of Buryatia (Eastern Siberia economic area) and Krasnodar region (North Caucasus economic area). The choice of the regions was determined by the role that farming and agriculture play in the lives of individuals, the community, and the local economy and by the distinctive patterns of climate change impacts on agriculture of those regions. MAIN FINDINGS OF THE REPORT 1. It is essential to understand that the climate is changing throughout Russia, but the changes are highly regionally specific.  The enormous extent of Russia’s territory and the variety of its environments cause different climate change impacts in different regions. Climate change effects are observable in European Russia and in Eastern Siberia, but they differ in many ways. Some impacts are region-wide. For example, a growth of dryness has been most notable in the southern regions of European Russia. 2. Droughts and floods are increasing in frequency. There is increasingly strong evidence linking the increasing atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gasses and an increase in the frequency and/or severity of extreme weather events. 2  Global Climate Models (GCM) 3   show that Russia and Central Asian States (CAS) will experience warming accompanied by decreases in the yearly number of frost days (days with surface air temperature below 0ºC) and decreases in the duration of extremely low winter temperatures and annual ranges of extreme temperatures. An increase is projected in the duration of summer temperature high extremes. The most severe heat waves are projected to occur in West Siberia and CAS. 4  Besides droughts, climate changes are also expected to cause an increase in other dangerous meteorological events, such as high waters, hail, sleet, frosts, hard frosts, strong heavy rains, hurricanes, etc. The droughts of 2010 and 2012 – that in the former case led to imposition of an export ban and in the latter to decreases in exports of almost 20% – showed how vulnerable   4 The Adaptation Challenge: Key issues for crop production and livelihoods under climate change in the Russian Federation Russia's agriculture will be as global warming intensifies and especially if mitigation efforts continue to fail. The droughts also highlighted the lack of adequate investment in mechanisms to help farmers and citizens in general – particularly in vulnerable communities  – adapt to climate change. 3.  As well as increasing extreme events, climate change will exacerbate chronic problems.  In wetter regions an increase in average annual and seasonal temperatures together with a growth of moisture content – as warmer air can hold more moisture – creates favourable conditions for wider distribution of pests, weeds, and plant diseases. It leads to increased workload for farmers and the need for more chemicals to eliminate pests, the use of which can be detrimental to the health of workers. 4. Climate change will exacerbate water inequalities . Water resources are distributed unequally among the regions. A reduction in water resources by 5–15% is expected at the same time as an increase in water consumption in many densely populated regions (Central and Black Soil Zone, the South of Russia, the North Caucasus, the South of Siberia), which are regions already characterized by water deficiency. Water resources will decrease in those regions most important for crop production. 5. There is a pressing need for a farsighted and ambitious adaptation policy . According to the National Report on Climate Change Issues prepared by the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade of the Russian Federation (2002), one can pick out certain positive consequences of climate change for crop production, namely: ã  an increase of areas appropriate for farming; ã  an increase in the duration of the vegetation growing period;   ã  an increase of hot periods impacting agricultural cultures ; ã  an improvement in winter conditions for field and orchard crops; ã  an improvement in conditions for some farm operations, including harvesting .  At the same time, the National Report noted that it will not be possible for Russia to attain advantages over other countries which are food exporters without action to adapt agriculture to the expected changes in climate and the natural environment. It should be emphasized that even in those regions where climate change impacts may be more conducive to agriculture, adaptation is still needed.  Although the agricultural potential of many territories which are not so suitable for agriculture now may be increased in the future, the main agricultural areas will experience significant losses in the absence of adequate adaptation measures. Given the growing global demand for agricultural products, the most important tasks are to implement adaptation policies in key agricultural regions and increase the efficiency of agricultural production in order to strengthen the competitiveness of domestic products in the world market. This is especially important for wheat production. 6. Smallholder producers in particular feel the adverse impacts of climate change and pay a high price in trying to adapt to changing conditions.  Adaptation measures come at a great financial cost for smallholder farmers. They do not have the required support from the regional or national authorities. As a result they struggle to pay their loans back, which forces some of them to leave agriculture altogether. Insurance could be a great help but currently, bureaucracy makes the insurance process painful and time consuming so many farmers are unable or reluctant to insure their crops. Therefore, adaptation policies and practice should have a particular focus on supporting smallholders.
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