The majority of more than half of people on Earth live in Asia. Moreover, 49.7% of all Asians are from East and Southeast Asia (1). Considering the tremendous demographic and geographic variation in this region, the enormous population indicates that a complete and integrated system in policy-making must be established to realize the aim of a food-secure in Asia (2). Besides, one of the biggest concerns the world suffers currently now is climate change. According to the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the rate of climate change will increase compared to early this year. It also warns that hazards may fluctuate based on how humans attempt to adapt to the changing environment over the course of the next 20 to 30 years (3). Larger economies countries (U.S., China, and the E.U.) have usually discussed and dedicated how to reduce the emission of CO2 and climate change (4-6). To put it another way, the pace at which people can switch to a low-carbon system for industry, land, buildings, energy, transportation, and cities will determine if global warming can be kept to 1.5°C (7). Southeast Asia, composed of numerous island nations, is regarded as one of the most affected areas by climate change. In addition to their geographical location, countries in this region are insecure because a huge percentage of their populations depend on highly natural ways to survive (8). Similar to other developing countries, Mainland Southeast Asia (MSEA) is doing this to take advantage of low costs of labor and poor environmental laws and allowing to increase the process of manufacturing businesses (9). As a result, the International Energy Agency (IEA) reported that the emissions rate increased by 60% from 2008 to 2018 (10). Besides, the large coastal regions of MSEA countries, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Thailand, are the most at risk from climate change (11). As a result, those nations are also impacted by other societal issues brought on by climate change, such as migration, disease, and the loss of life due to food shortages. For the millions of people living in this region, which is already affected by hunger and persecution, all these face previously unheard-of difficulties (12). As well, over 50% of their population works in agriculture and related industries in rural areas (13). Despite the fact that the importance of the agriculture sector to GDP and employment may have decreased over the past 20 years in the majority of Southeast Asian nations, a sizable portion of the population is still involved in agriculture. Consequently, it is estimated that the agricultural economy and farmers in these nations will suffer severe consequences from climate change (14).
According to historical agricultural economic statistics in Asia, the production of rice is frequently the first issue that must be solved in terms of food security. Almost 90% of the world’s supply of rice is produced in Asia, and the majority of it is grown in tropical regions that receive sufficient precipitation. Almost 50% of the world’s population, which is primarily concentrated in Asia, depends on rice as a staple food. East and Southeast Asia produced an estimated 418.56 million tons of rice in 2019, accounting for 47.6% of the region’s overall grain production and 55.4% of the world’s total rice production. As a result, rice production is essential not only for Asia but also for the rest of the world (2). One of the most significant economic sectors in Thailand is agriculture, also known as the “Rice Bowl of Asia.” Almost over 30% of the employees work in this sector, which continues to be the highest global supplier of rice, canned pineapple, rubber, sugar, tapioca, tiger prawns, fish, and tuna (15). The majority of a person’s daily protein intake typically consists of meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. East and Southeast Asia also produce a substantial amount of goods from the fisheries and cattle industries in terms of the production of animal-based proteins. Animal-based protein output totaled 352.04 million tonnes in 2018 when milk, meat, eggs, and protein from aquaculture and catch fisheries are included (2). There is no denying that raising cattle has placed a strain on the planet’s meager natural resources, leading to problems like deforestation, climate change, and land degradation today. The need for animal and fishery products may be temporarily satisfied by increasing imports, but given the environmental costs of raising animals, this may not be a long-term solution (16). Besides, the amount and value of poultry meat imported by Southeast Asian nations have risen gradually over the past several years, the region’s exports of the product make up about 13.27% of the world total (17). Consequently, poultry production is projected to rise in nations including Indonesia, Malaysia, and Thailand, where poultry meat is preferred over other meats, continuing the trend of this progression. In the upcoming years, a rise in imports of animal feed, especially soybean meal, is anticipated as a result of rising animal husbandry (18). Therefore, the environmental impacts Thailand and this area face do not only the food and nutritional security of its own population but also the safety of people who depend on food from this region (19). Some of the studies have focused on the issue of drought in Southeast Asia; for instance, Hariadi (20) discovered that the likelihood of future drought in a region close to Indonesia is higher than that in other Southeast Asian regions. The yearly temperature trend had a rather large change, as highlighted by Thirumalai et al. (21), which probably led to drought conditions in Southeast Asia. Another report revealed how the Southeast Asian monsoon variability is affected by climate change. According to the report, the Siberian high, Arctic oscillation, and western Pacific subtropical high were linked to the weather systems in this area, such as the circulation of monsoon season (22).
Additionally, the issue is that agriculture in general both contributes to and faces the impacts associated with climate change. Because, the manufacturing process generates a significant amount of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, which make a major contribution to both climate change and global warming. Due to the significant utilization of agrochemical products in Thailand, such a natural problem in agriculture becomes much more challenging. Regarding the comparatively small size of its agricultural fields, Thailand has long been recognized as one of the top users of agricultural chemicals in the world (19). In the report of top pesticide using countries, Thailand was in 4th place in terms of yearly pesticide use, behind China, the U.S., and Argentina as of April 2017 (23). Thailand emitted 278,270 kilotons (kt) of greenhouse gases in 2017, which placed it as the 20th greatest producer in the world (24). Another report revealed that during 1990 and 2018, Thailand’s CO2 emissions increased at an average yearly rate of 4.79%, further than tripled (25). In 2013, agriculture was associated with 21.9% of Thailand’s net GHG emissions, with rice production contributing to about 55% of those emissions, according to the country’s 2nd Biennial Update Report (26). In Thailand, where 11.27 million hectares of rice are grown, or about half of the country’s total agricultural land, there is a critical challenge with this (27). Moreover, methane, which is about 25 times more climate harmful than CO2, is produced in these agricultural cultivation regions (28). Thailand had methane emissions of 106,499.2 kt of CO2 equivalent in 2012, increasing at a 1.2% yearly average (29). A locally produced model suggests that the mean daily maximum temperature in Thailand will rise by 1.2 to 1.9°C by 2050. Over the past 50 years, Thailand has seen a reduction in both the number of rainy days and the rainfall (30). Because domestic food production is insufficient to meet the nutritional needs of their citizens, certain Asian nations with limited natural resources, like Japan and Singapore, rely heavily on food commerce to achieve food security.
Germanwatch’s Global Climate Risk Index 2021 study states that numerous Southeast Asian nations, including Thailand, Vietnam, Myanmar, and Philippines were exposed to incredibly high climate change risks between 2000 and 2019. Thus, consideration of climate change is essential when solving concerns related to food security in this country (14). In fact, Southeast Asia had been struggling with a significant drought issue since the end of 2019. According to data from the Mekong River Commission, the Mekong River’s water level in 2019 set the lowest record in almost 60 years. And, coupled with the initiation of the El Niño phenomenon, left downstream Mekong River nations in Southeast Asia such as Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos were facing severe drought issues (31), affecting rice export prices to rise in the first quarter of 2020 in the two largest rice exporting countries, Thailand and Vietnam. According to one study suggested that 3°C rising temperature might cause reduced labor capacity by 30-50% in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa (32). The mainland of Southeast Asia is projected to experience an increase in temperature in the upcoming year. Precipitation will be on the decline throughout much of Mainland Southeast Asia in the future, with the exception of Southern Thailand. In these conditions, drought events are more prone to occur. Future drought risk in this region is expected to increase both during the rainy and dry seasons, according to SPI (Standard Precipitation Index) estimates. Whereas future climate change may affect the amount of water available for agriculture, there is still shockingly enough water in this region (33).
Based on the report of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (34), 54.5 million people were displaced by climate-related disasters between 2008 and 2018 in Southeast Asia (35). In line with the most updated data from the World Nutrition Report, 21.8% of children under the age of five in Asia are stunting, and 9.1% are wasting (36). Due to a lack of food availability and other environmental effects of climate change, the nutritional status will deteriorate (37). On the other hand, the creation of jobs and a decrease in poverty are further ways that the food trade can contribute to economic growth. Also, it can reduce the instability of the entire food (38). Moreover, some Southeast Asian nations can profit from the decline in market distortions and enhancement of incomes and welfare, with greater exposure to the world market (13, 39). For instance, comparing to those in developed countries, agricultural processes in developing nations are generally less resource-efficient, with high greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and lower yield. Carbon intensity and emission can be decreased by energy structure optimization and the advancement of renewable energy. This is very important, especially for the power sector, which is necessary to achieve the nation’s carbon reduction target. In terms of food security, efficient climate policies enhance productivity in addition to reducing GHG emissions. Furthermore, governments are collaborating with farmers and local organizations to advance sustainable resource management and agriculture. In this regard, the “Sufficiency Economy” philosophy in Thailand advocates self-sufficiency and environmentally friendly agriculture, and the “One Tambon One Product” (OTOP) initiative assists local communities develop and sell their goods effectively. It is critical to address climate change as soon as possible in order to ensure food security and sustainable development in Southeast Asia and Thailand (2). Government as well as other stakeholders need to take more action to solve these issues, including promoting climate-smart agriculture, funding research and development (R&D), and advocating for sustainable agriculture and resource management. These initiatives are the fundamental for assuring the resilience and sustainability of agriculture in the face of climate change.
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