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Colombia could lose 60% of land suitable for irrigated rice due to climate change

Christian Fernsby ▼ | June 3, 2019
Unchecked emissions will reduce land suitable for rice in Colombia, underscoring how geography limits options for crops.
Colombia crops
LatAm   Colombia crops
Unlike China, where rice paddies can move to higher latitudes, Colombian production may go to higher altitudes without climate action.

Without significant global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, Colombia will have 60 percent less land suitable for rice production by the 2050s, according to a new study by the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

Due primarily to increased temperatures and decreased rainfall as opposed to sea-level rise, which is the driver of projected change to rice production in some Asian countries the research shows suitable conditions will need to be found at higher elevations when low-altitude fields are too hot or dry for irrigated rice production.

The study found that Colombia’s suitable arable land for rice is currently 4.4 million hectares but could be reduced to 1.8 million hectares in a few decades.

Mitigation could require complex decisions around land-use change, changes in crop cultivation and food security, said the authors.

The study is the first of its kind for a Latin American country and was published in March in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change.