Without significant global reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, Colombia will have 60% less land suitable for rice production by the 2050s. 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.
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 highlights the climate-change challenges faced by many tropical countries that grow rice, which is the most important food crop in the developing world. Whereas China, the world's largest rice producer, has lots of land and can move production further north to mitigate climate impacts, many countries do not have the same options.