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Thailand and Food Security: Climate Change, Floods and Grasshoppers

A recent article in IRIN details the multiplication of rice pests after last year’s devastating floods – pests that have the capacity to “decimate harvests.” According to the country’s Rice Department, the “brown plant hopper” has destroyed 30 percent of rice production in affected provinces, “amounting to around 1.3 million tons for the country, or more than 15 percentage of the nationwide harvest, which takes place twice a year…” This comes on top of the devastation by the floods themselves, which experts estimated could destroy as much a quarter of the country’s rice crop. Given that Thailand is the largest rice exporter in the world (though it may soon lose that designation), this is not just a local matter.

As we highlighted previously, climate change projections for the region are dire, with a picture of more frequent and destructive extreme weather events and unpredictable rainfall, especially in flood-prone areas. Add to this continuing political turmoil, and there is reason to be very concerned about Thailand’s immediate and long-term future.

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