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Madagascar Rice Seen Benefiting From Climate Warming in Study

Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Madagascar’s rice growers are expected to benefit from climate change as warmer weather boosts yields, French agriculture researcher Cirad said.

Farmers in the island’s highlands grow rain-fed rice at the lower limit of the crop’s temperature tolerance, meaning a warmer climate will accelerate flowering and grain maturity, the Paris-based researcher wrote in an online report today.

“This is the opposite of what should happen in southern Asia, where rice is grown at the upper limit of its temperature tolerance and where the yields should undergo a general decline,” Cirad wrote.

Researchers at Cirad and Malagasy agronomy institute Fofifa used a computer model to simulate rice yields in Madagascar from 2010 through to 2099, according to the report. The results were “surprising,” according to Cirad.

“The most pessimistic climate scenario is also that which allows for the best yields,” Cirad said.

In the model with the greatest climate change effects, average rice yields of 5,478 kilograms (12,077 pounds) per hectare (2.47 acres) increased by 576 kilograms, according to the report. The researchers said the study didn’t take into account biotic limitations or violent weather events.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris at rruitenberg@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Claudia Carpenter at ccarpenter2@bloomberg.net

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