AGRICULTURAL ECONOMISTS ANALYZED THE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

THE GATHERING OF EXPERTS WAS HELD DURING THREE DAYS, ORGANIZED IN PLENARY SESSIONS AND DISCUSSION PANELS.



October 18, 2017

The impact of climate change on the productive systems, and in the quality of life of the people and the urgent need to improve the productive practices, were some of the topics addressed in the V International Congress of Agricultural Economists that was held at the Talca Campus during three days.

Specialists from the American continent and Europe took part in this event, organized by our University within the framework of the celebration of the 30 years of the School of Agronomy and the 36 years of the Institution.

"Analysis of the Effects of Climate Change on Agricultural Productivity", "Agricultural Productivity and Water Reality", "Public Experiences in Agriculture: Can They Be Improved? Experiences from Latin America and the Caribbean Countries" or "Poverty, Agriculture and Rural Development", were some of the talks given by known researchers from various Chilean and foreign universities such as UC-Davis, University of Queensland and Nebraska.

At the opening of the Congress, President Alvaro Rojas valued the opportunity to turn this space into a place for the exchange of knowledge, high-level debate and an incentive for the creation of networks "based on the study of climate change, sustainability, productivity, resource management and care of the environment and diversity."

Rojas, who spoke knowingly about these subjects being himself an agricultural economist and ex-minister of Agriculture, talked about the effects of Climate change impacts on different ecosystems, people's quality of life and production. "Every day thousands of people suffer avalanches, floods, droughts, fires, tornadoes and hurricanes", he said and, among others examples, he mentioned the recent fires in Portugal and California and hurricane Irma, a few weeks ago, and forest fires in Chile last summer.

At the same time, he made reference to the effects of a bigger population and factors such as the rise in the per capita income in a number of countries, the increased demand for water and the liberalization of trade, in the productive transformation of the territories with negative impact on biodiversity. "Concepts such as environmental degradation, climate vulnerability and instability begin to fill the agrarian political debates of all countries", he remarked, at the same time associating climate change with an increase in inequalities.

Productive Practices

"World agriculture is faced with the urgency of improving production practices that will make them more sustainable, that are indeed compatible with efficient, competitive and technically and economically feasible production systems," he emphasized.

Despite the not very encouraging situation, Rojas said that there is some progress. With regard to Chile, he mentioned the 2017-2022National Climate Change Plan, which considers 30 specific objectives and lines of action framed in the Paris Agreement, and among these, to reduce CO2 emissions by 30% by the year 2030, promoting the development of non-conventional renewable energies and reforest 100 thousand hectares of native forest.

Along with the above, some effects of climate change in the country, such as the increase of the temperature, decrease in rainfall, increased extreme weather events and loss of genetic heritage, as well as impact on hydroelectric generation, tourism, fisheries and forests and agriculture. "There has been a noticeable displacement of crops, in particular fruit-growing and viticulture to the south, motivated by a reduced availability of water in the north-central area. It is also evidence of an increase in the environmental vulnerability in the coastal drylands and in the coast cordillera ", he said.

The president also discussed how climate change is related to human rights and thus reaches a higher level.

"For our agricultural system, mitigating the effects of climate change in this wider context poses a challenge to the technological development in the medium - long term," he said, and in that sense, he added that "the social and economic sciences should monitor and properly assess, not only the impact of new technologies in different production systems, but it also must properly document the effect of climate change on the dignity of people."

The Dean of the Faculty of Agrarian Sciences, Hermine Vogel, highlighted the predominantly agricultural characteristics of our region and, at the same time in relation to the requirements that this condition arises, he said that "we have in our University several very important specialists who are doing good contribution in agricultural economics."

Generating Studies

For his part, German Lobos, an academic from the Faculty of Economics and Business, president of the Association of Agricultural Economists of Chile, explained that "one of the fundamental objectives of the Chilean economy is to become a food power or aiming in that direction. "In this regard, we have much to offer in terms of studies, to generate scientific evidence to make better decisions from the point of view of public policies related to agriculture, and these meetings allow the exchange of points of view and to agree on some guidelines to increase the contributions," he stressed.

The regional ministerial secretary of Agriculture, Oscar Vega, referred to the challenges to improve agricultural production and indicated one of these is to ensure the competitiveness of the agricultural sector, "how do we raise productivity levels considering water scarcity today as a factor in this climate change."

In addition, the program included a pre-conference about "Productivity, Sustainability and Public Policies: Synergies to Improve the Agricultural Economic Development", where the objectives were addressed as well as the importance of productivity in a global perspective and its links with natural resources.



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