DA: Climate change a threat to food security, livelihood
by Lito Dar
Baguio City (3 October) -- The agricultural sector contributes 18 percent to the country's Gross National Product (GNP), and is essential in assuring food security and sufficiency to the Filipino people, as well as in providing employment and income to farmers and fisherfolks. But the present climate change phenomenon poses a big threat or impact.
Department of Agriculture - Bureau of Soils and Water Management Agriculturist II, Caren Salandanan reported that from 1991 to 2007, almost 90% of the losses and damage to the country's rice production was due to flashfloods, typhoons and droughts. In corn production, the same reasons resulted to almost 98% in damages and losses in production during the same period. In 1998 alone, the El Niņo phenomenon resulted in a negative 6.6 growth in the agricultural sector.
Salandanan explained that some human activities increased Greenhouse Gases (GHG) in the atmosphere that contribute to global warming, and eventually resulted into the rise in sea level, extreme climate aberration, temperature rise and rainfall variability. These are contributing factors to flashfloods, stronger typhoons and droughts which decreases agricultural outputs and eventually will affect national food security/sufficiency program and farmers/fisherfolks main source of income.
As government's response to mitigate the effect of climate change in the agri-sector and to attain the goal of national food security and sufficiency, the Department of Agriculture is currently implementing the FIELDS program or Fertilizer, Irrigation and Infrastructure, Extension and Education, Loans, Dryers and other postharvest facilities and Seeds and other genetic materials, Salandanan said.
Salandan stressed that for fertilizer and soil management, DA is working on organic-based agricultural fertilization program. For irrigation and drainage program, they are involved on irrigation system expansion/restoration/rehabilitation, watershed management and re-use of wastewater for irrigation and other agricultural purposes. For education, DA is facilitating trainings on water management and water saving technologies, organic fertilizer production, farmer Water School (FWS), Farmer Field School (FFS) and livelihood trainings.
Aside from their regular loans, dryers and other post harvest facilities program, the DA is also working on developing seeds that are drought and flood tolerant, specially on rice varieties, for distribution and buffer stocking.
Other mitigation that the agricultural sector could do, according to Salandanan, include a study on the interaction between the use of bio-energy with food security, develop and promote efficient and cost-effective technologies on-farm use of agricultural residues, promote livelihood improvement to strengthen farmer/fisherfolk economic resilienc, encourage fisherfolk to shift from fish hunting to fish farming, and to implement coastal resource management.
Salandan was one of the resource speakers in the Climate Change forum for Health hosted by the Department of Health National Center for Disease Prevention Salandanan and Control, in coordination with the Center for Health Development-Cordillera. (PIA) [top]