Climate change is seriously affecting food production in the Pacific region and could result in rise of hunger and malnutrition in the area, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) said on Tuesday.

An ADB report urged Pacific nations to increase local food production, particularly of climate-resistant crops such as taro, yam and cassava, and to use new technologies to improve traditional production systems.

The report, titled Food Security and Climate Change in the Pacific: Rethinking the Options, said the Pacific region is already experiencing worsening coastal erosion, floods, drought, and storm surges as a result of climate change.

“Rising temperatures and rising tides due to climate change could reduce food supply in the Pacific. With over 10 million people in developing countries in the region, this is a threat that we cannot ignore,” said report author Mahfuzuddin Ahmed, a senior economist in ADB’s Pacific department.

Ahmed said there should also be increased investment in agricultural research and development as well as training in areas such as plant breeding and resource management.

“Communities need to work together to find the best way to adapt to changing agricultural needs and countries should also work with each other and with regional agencies,” he said.

The report also noted that carefully managing the coastal fisheries will also be crucial in boosting food security in the beleaguered region.

The Manila-based ADB said agricultural productivity in the Pacific has stagnated for the last 45 years despite the region’s growing population.

“A steady flow of people from the countryside seeking better work in the cities has contributed to that,” by depriving the agricultural sector of manpower, the report said.

“This has left Pacific nations increasingly dependent on imported food, particularly in urban areas.” The report said all national planning and policies should take climate change into account, including infrastructure such as water pipes, roads, ports and coastal development.