Report on climate change vulnerability and adaptation strategies for tea plantations released

A comprehensive report on the impacts of climate change, vulnerability and adaptation strategies for the tea sector in Sri Lanka was officially released at the FAO-IGG on tea meeting held during May 25-27 at Naivasha, Kenya.� This book was written jointly by the scientists of the working group on climate change representing India, Sri Lanka, Kenya and China as a report of the FAO-IGG on tea. Dr.M.A.Wijeratne, Senior Research Officer and Officer in Charge of the Tea Research Institute, Low country Regional Center contributed to the chapter from Sri Lanka and other authors were Dr. RM Bhagat, India, Dr. John K Bore, Kenya and Dr. Wenyan Han, China. The first copy of the report was handed over to Mr. Kaison Chang, the Secretary, Intergovernmental Group on Tea. This report highlights the present status of the tea industry, tea growing regions and their climatic conditions, climate trends, impacts of climate change and vulnerable regions and most appropriate adaptation strategies to minimize adverse impacts. Additionally, some implications and barriers for adopting to climate change and policy interventions required have also been listed in the report. The report reveals that warmer regions with poor soil conditions are highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Tea lands at high elevations are projected to be benefited by rising ambient CO2 levels and temperatures. As a result tea cultivations in many countries are projected to be shifted to higher altitudes. When tea growing regions of Sri Lanka are considered, low country region where the largest number of smallholdings are scatted are projected to be highly vulnerable to the adverse impacts of climate change.

Of the proposed adaptation strategies, selecting most suitable agro-ecological regions with good soil conditions for tea cultivation (replanting and expansion), crop diversification to reduce risk of mono-cropping, use of a basket of cultivars incorporating drought, pest and disease tolerant tea cultivars in addition to those of high yield potential, soil and soil moisture conservation and improvement, proper establishment and management of shade trees, rainwater harvesting and irrigation, judicious use of chemical fertilizers and afforestation are given high priority. Additionally, the report emphasize the need for policy interventions in the areas of strengthening R&D institutes and their extension arms to conduct further assessments on climate change impacts, develop technologies applicable to different regions and farm sizes and conduct awareness programmes, providing guidance and financial assistance for climate change adaptation and mitigation (reduce Green House Gas emissions and increase Carbon sequestration) strategies, nature conservation and eco-tourism, establishment of national and international network on climate change to share knowledge and technologies, investments on field infrastructure development such as drainage system, irrigation system, road network and ecosystem diversity to improve level of adaptability of tea growers to climate change and introducing crop insurance schemes to minimize the impacts on tea growers and other stakeholders.

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