Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Taiwan’s Agricultural Sector (2023-2026)

Climate Change Adaptation Strategies for Taiwan’s Agricultural Sector (2023-2026)

Published: 2024.06.07
Accepted: 2024.05.22
30
Senior Researcher
Agricultural Technology Research Institute-Agricultural Policy Research Center, Taipei, Taiwan

ABSTRACT

This article discusses the third phase of Taiwan's development of the National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2023-2026) for the agricultural sector, in accordance with the Climate Change Response Act of 2023. It provides an overview of the outcomes from the previous phase and outlines the goals, key strategies, and content of the current phase. The article also explores the impact of climate change in Taiwan, particularly its implications for the agricultural sector, and highlights the main adaptation strategies in going forward. These strategies include strengthening ecosystem services and biodiversity, enhancing agricultural resilience to climate risks, and exploring opportunities in response to climate change.

Keywords: Climate Change Adaptation Plan, Agricultural Sector, Climate Change Response Act, Adaptation Strategies

CLIMATE CHANGE IN TAIWAN

The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), in collaboration with other government agencies in Taiwan, has published a comprehensive report in response to the Sixth Assessment Report (AR6) by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). This report provides the latest future projections for Taiwan, as well as the outcomes of scientific research to enhance public awareness of the impacts of climate change.

Local observations and analyses reveal a significant increase in Taiwan's annual average temperature by nearly 1.60°C between 1911 and 2020. Over the past 30 and 50 years, this temperature rise has shown a worrisome acceleration (Figure 1).

In terms of seasonal distribution, summer has extended to 120–150 days in the early 21st century, while winter has reduced to 70 days and more recently to 20–40 days (Figure 2).

Projections indicate that the length of summer is expected to increase further, from approximately 130 days to 155-210 days when considering changes in seasonal duration. Conversely, the duration of winter is projected to decrease further, from approximately 70 days to 0-50 days. The changing trends are more significant in the worst-case mitigation scenario and relatively less pronounced in the best-case mitigation scenario (Figure 3).

Climate change will affect various sectors in Taiwan differently, with significant impacts arising from temperature variations (hot and cold), rainfall patterns (wet and dry), and coastal changes (sea level rise, marine heatwaves, ocean acidification, etc.). The following section provides an overview of the potential impacts on various sectors based on these changes.

Rice production in Taiwan is expected to decline under the future warming scenario, with a more significant decline in the average yield of the second crop compared to the first (Figure 4).

The TCCIP report team applied the DSSAT (Decision Support System for Agrotechnology Transfer) model to predict the crop production of rice and maize. The change rate is the difference between the baseline period and the future (mid-century and the end of the century). Overall, crop production would decrease by 13% (mid-century) and 18% (the end of the century). A significant decreasing trend can be found in northern and eastern Taiwan. The research identified rising temperatures that shorten the vegetative phase of crops as the primary reason for production decreasing (TCCIP, 2024).

The intensity of heavy rainfall events is projected to increase, while the likelihood of typhoons making landfall rainfall in Taiwan is expected to decrease, and rainfall patterns will shift under the future warming scenario. With the exception of the central region, which experienced a moderate decline in the mid-21st century, other regions demonstrate an upward trend in the impact of flooding. Similarly, except for the central mountainous areas, all regions exhibit an increasing trend in the occurrence of debris flow by the middle of the century.

Figure 5 illustrates the change ( ) and changing rate (%) of consecutive dry days (CDD) in spring at the end of the century under 4 different scenarios (SSP1-2.6, SSP2-4.5, SSP 3-7.5, SSP5-8.5). The CDD increases as the emission scenario worsens from SSP1-2.6 to SSP5-8.5 and the most significant trend can be found in South-western Taiwan (TCCIP, 2024).

MAJOR ACHIEVEMENTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION IN THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR IN TAIWAN (2018-2022)

Agricultural production is biologically based and highly dependent on natural resources, such as water, soil, and biodiversity. It is directly affected by weather conditions. Simulations show that climate change is likely to result in rising temperatures, increased typhoon intensity, an increasingly uneven distribution of rainfall between wet and dry seasons, rising sea levels, and an increased frequency of extreme weather events. These conditions may lead to reduced crop yields, decreased product quality, jeopardized food security, and impacts on the original habitats of ecosystems, resulting in a loss of biodiversity and other consequences. Given the complexity of agricultural production, its impact framework is illustrated in Figure 6.

The impact of climate change on the agricultural sector is multifaceted. Taking agricultural food products as an example, the warming trend may affect fruit production in several ways, including shifts in cultivation areas, changes in the timing of fruit production, and a decrease in quality. Increased average temperatures lead to a prolonged summer period, which results in a reduced variety of vegetable crops and increased vulnerability to pests and diseases. Moreover, climate warming can also disrupt the flowering timing within the floral industry, leading to additional costs for adjusting production periods. Changes in rainfall patterns affect open-field crops in different ways. Changing rainfall frequency can impact the yield of vegetables and fruit trees. Insufficient rainfall necessitates increased crop irrigation, while excessive rainfall intensity directly affects crop appearance and quality.

Key Achievements in Climate Change Adaptation for Taiwan's Agricultural Sector (2018-2022) include:

  1. Expanding insurance coverage and establishing an Agricultural Insurance Fund

Following the President's announcement on May 27, 2020, the Agriculture Insurance Act was officially enacted on January 1, 2021. This led to the establishment of the Taiwan Agriculture Insurance Fund on September 11, 2021, to oversee agricultural insurance operations and risk management, marking the transition of agricultural insurance from natural disaster relief to income insurance. The Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) will further increase insurance coverage, the coverage ratio, and ensure the stability of agricultural revenue.

  1. Promoting agricultural facilities and enhancing industry resilience

In addition to promoting agricultural facilities, such as building greenhouses and utilizing cutting-edge computer-aided design techniques, the MOA also promotes organic agriculture and encourages local production and consumption. Through the widespread adoption of these concepts and practices, the goal is to gradually reshape consumer preferences and values, eventually steering consumers towards eco-friendlier options. A significant milestone was the enactment of the Organic Agriculture Promotion Act on May 30, 2019. This legislation has had a substantial influence on both the demand and supply sides of the agricultural sector and has prompted the government to actively pursue bilateral agreements with other countries for the export of organic agricultural products.

  1. Promoting weather observation and forecast data, and enhancing early-warning systems and disaster management

The government has made significant efforts to improve the timeliness of weather data forecasts and increase the density of weather monitoring stations to establish early-warning systems and enhance disaster management, mitigating the risks posed by climate impacts and reducing agricultural damage. As of 2021, there were a total of 163 agricultural weather stations and 121 weather forecast points strategically located in key crop production regions. A color-coded system (red-orange-green light) has been introduced to effectively communicate crop damage conditions. Additionally, the government collaborates with other organizations to develop two platforms: the "Meteorology & Agriculture Disaster Preparedness App" and the "Crop Disaster Alert Platform," as depicted in Figure 7. These platforms are accessible through mobile applications, ensuring instantaneous access to impending disaster information. The "Crops Disaster Alert Platform" has been integrated with LINE and has approximately 27 thousand users. Users can access typhoon, high-temperature, rainstorm, and strong wind event warnings through the Weather & Agriculture Disaster Prevention mobile application. They can also use the App to search for Agricultural Research and Extension Stations, Agricultural Weather Stations, and view specific crop areas in counties and cities, providing detailed weather monitoring information for each location.

  1. Establishing a scientific basis for adaptation, enhancing the resilience of agricultural production, and adjusting to adversity

The government is committed to establishing a robust agricultural system through rigorous scientific research, aiming to bolster the resilience of agricultural production and the capacity for effective adversity management. To achieve this, the primary focus is on three critical scenarios: a 1.5-degree Celsius temperature rise, a 10% reduction in available water resources for agriculture, and an escalation in extreme climate-related events. Building upon these foundational situations, the government has devised a comprehensive set of measures and actions. This includes the completion of a thorough climate impact and risk assessment for the cultivation of 30 pivotal crops. This initiative will provide crucial insights and strategies to safeguard agricultural sustainability in the face of evolving climate challenges.

  1. Enhancing agricultural irrigation to mitigate drought caused by reduced rainfall

Between 2018 and 2021, the government upgraded 992 km of irrigation infrastructure and improved 3,460 related constructions. Seminars promoted the latest irrigation techniques, leading to the adoption of water-saving practices on 8,601 hectares.

Furthermore, the Ministry of Agriculture intensified its monitoring efforts pertaining to irrigation water, prompted by diminished rainfall patterns and evolving local water demands.

  1. Enhancing ecosystem monitoring and analyzing climate-driven organism distribution.

In collaboration with the Ministry of Agriculture, the local government successfully conducted 103,625 disease and pest detections across a spectrum of 20 plant species. These proactive measures facilitated the issuance of timely warnings to agricultural stakeholders. Furthermore, the amassed long-term data from these surveillance efforts serves as a foundational resource for informing future adaptation strategies aimed at enhancing agricultural resilience and mitigating pest and disease-related risks.

To construct ecological niches for 30 threatened plants and review conservation policies, the MOA enhances biodiversity information through the Taiwan Biodiversity Observation Network. This data aids in analyzing the impact of climate change on organism distribution.

Additionally, the MOA concluded primary research on marine ecology, encompassing the investigation of threatened, protected, and specific species populations, the collection of biological satellite data, and the regular monitoring of wild protected marine species.

CLIMATE CHANGE ADAPTATION STRATEGIES IN THE AGRICULTURAL SECTOR (2023-2026)

Building on insights from the previous 'Conference on Climate Change Adaptation Policies for Agriculture,' the 'National Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (2013-2017),' and 'National Climate Change Adaptation Action Program (2018-2022),' and considering international development trends and current pivotal policies, relevant administrative bodies provided invaluable input. Subsequently, agricultural authorities, in alignment with their supervisory roles, meticulously crafted 'action plans.' These were developed with a focus on defined areas of responsibility, guided by professional judgments, and aligned with Taiwan's sustainable development goals in agriculture, current agricultural policy objectives, and climate change risks.

Following thorough assessments, the contents of these action plans were refined and proposed. The resulting 'Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan for Agricultural Production and Biodiversity (2023-2026)' stands as a testament to the Ministry of Agriculture's commitment to ensuring climate change adaptation within the agricultural sector.

The Ministry of Agriculture has developed future adaptation strategies based on contemporary assessments of climate change risks pertinent to agriculture. The climate change adaptation strategy delineated for the period spanning from 2023 to 2026 is elucidated as follows:

  1. Vision:

Creating a low-carbon, resilient agricultural ecosystem for securing food supply and ecological sustainability.

  1. Key Strategies (Table 1)
  1. Empowering Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity

In response to climate challenges, the agricultural sector is committed to strengthening ecosystem services through Nature-based Solutions. These solutions, inspired and supported by nature, are recognized for their capacity to enhance climate resilience. Future endeavors will focus on improving agricultural production conditions while fortifying ecosystem adaptation. This includes optimizing agricultural ecosystem and natural resource management, overseeing protected areas and biodiversity, and refining germplasm collection and preservation. Additionally, the Irrigation Agency will modernize farmland irrigation infrastructure to bolster food security in alignment with agricultural sector restructuring. Continuous improvement of farmland irrigation is a top priority.

  1. Enhancing Agricultural Resilience to Climate Risk

The agricultural sector will bolster its climate monitoring system for analysis and application, ensuring capacity building. Stabilizing the supply of agricultural products will be achieved through strengthened monitoring and management of climate-vulnerable storage items. Additionally, improvements in early-warning systems and disaster management will continue. This encompasses upgraded weather forecasts, adaptation information, and tailored programs for affected farmers and businesses, including emergency loans and relief measures.

  1. Pioneering Agricultural Opportunities in Climate Chang

By leveraging meteorological science, advancing climate change research, and propelling the development of climate services, the Ministry of Agriculture is steadfast in its commitment to foster and expand the climate services industry for agriculture. This entails strengthening the nation's climate service system to provide robust support for climate risk adaptation. This initiative offers compelling investment opportunities in innovative and resilient agricultural business models, including climate services and facility industries. The agriculture sector will spearhead research and development efforts focused on climate change, encompassing the formulation of strategies, conducting rigorous risk assessments, advancing varieties, and pioneering technologies. This includes the introduction of stress-tolerant plants adept at establishing a new metabolic homeostasis in response to stress, ensuring they thrive without succumbing to stress-induced damage.

CONCLUSION

The impacts of climate change on agriculture exhibit variability across specific production regions and products, necessitating tailored coping and adaptation strategies. Consequently, distinct assessments tailored to diverse industries and products will persistently be required to comprehensively understand evolving risks. Current efforts in agricultural adaptation to climate change must prioritize the well-being of farmers. This necessitates optimizing adaptation measures, serving not only to stimulate economic prosperity within agriculture but also to safeguard the livelihoods of those engaged in the sector. Furthermore, a robust ecological framework forms the cornerstone of agricultural landscape resilience. This mandates a strategic reinforcement of nature conservation efforts, including robust data acquisition, spatial-temporal analysis, and the establishment of national ecological networks.

REFERENCES

The Government of Republic of China, 2022, Adaptation Communication (Taiwan).

The Government of Republic of China, 2013, National Climate Change Adaptation Plan (2013-2017).

The Government of Republic of China, 2018, National Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan (2018-2022).

The Government of Republic of China, 2023, National Climate Change Adaptation Action Plan on the Agricultural Sector in Taiwan (2023-2026).

Taiwan Climate Change Projection Information and Adaptation Knowledge Platform (TCCIP). (2024). Climate Change in Taiwan: Scientific Report 2024. National Science and Technology Council and Ministry of Environment.

Comment