Phils should put up more Climate Field School, rainwater harvesters, organic compost facilities—Loren Legarda

January 17, 2022

Philippines should put up more Climate Field School (CFS) similar to one in Siargao Island, rainwater harvesters, and organic compost facilities in order to adapt to climate change and flourish its agriculture sector amid weather-related disasters.

   Climate change, and its destructions as that of Odette all over Visayas and Mindanao, can no longer be ignored if Philippines’ agriculture sector should take off, according to House Deputy Speaker and Antique Rep. Loren Legarda.

   Speaking at the Philippine Chamber of Agriculture and Food Inc.’s (PCAFI) Halalan 2022 Para sa AGrikultura, Legarda said she will be pushing for “greening” of the supply chain once elected senator.

   PCAFI President Danilo V. Fausto, along with Alyansa Agrikultura’s Ernesto Ordonez, and three other farm-based groups are orienting 2022 election candidates on the plight of Philippines’ agriculture. Others proposing recommendations are Federation of Free Farmers Chairman Sec. Leonardo Q. Montemayor, National Scietnist Dr. Emil Q. Javier, and Rice Watch Chairman Hazel Tanchuling.

   A Climate Field School for Farmers and Fisherfolks was first established in Dumangas, Leyte.

   Its 16 module program for farmers includes 1. Climate, Pests and Diseases, Crop Growth & Development 2. Cropping System/Pattern and Climate-Related Risks 3. Understanding Weather and Climate and Climate Parameters 4. Weather and Climate Information Products 5. Forecast Interpretation, Translation and Communication, and 6. Forecasts Generation.

   The rest of the training is on Incorporating Climate Forecast in Decision Making, Understanding Forward and Backward institutional linkages in Agriculture Sector

Learning, and Implementing the Rice Integrated Crop Management System Palay Check.

   Legarda said coastal greenbelts, largely planted with mangroves as that found in Del Carmen, Siargao Island, should be put up nationwide.

Mangrove-planted coastal greenbelts help protect islands from disastrous typhoons. Credit-CNN 

   “Their mangroves, their coastal greenbelt in Del Carmen, Siargao, helped them against the (typhoon destructions).  Their destruction has not been as serious as those in other local governments units in the island of Siargao,” Legarda said.

   She may not be the author of the Rainwater Collection and Springs Development Act of 1989, said Legarda. But she is pushing for rainwater harvester’s establishment in each barangay.

   “It makes sense because there’s so much water, but we don’t have water,” she said.

   Arsenio “Toto” Barcelona, president of vegetable producer Harvest Agribusiness Corp, said during the online forum that National Irrigation Administration’s (NIA) irrigation facilities irrigate largely rice only.

   “It’s high time we rationalize how we use our resources especially we are made up of many islands, so our waterways are not continuous.  Water resources should be done on island basis.  There should be a regionalized development of water resources,” said Barcelona.

   “NIA, under the Office of the President, has its 85 to 90% irrigation going just to rice fields.  We should look into this. We should see the importance of irrigation on the productivity of vegetables and fruits.”

   Barcelona said the Philippines has one of the lowest yield in high value crops among Association of Southeast Asian Nations due to deficiencies in irrigation practice.    

   “So we should give importance to new technology in irrigation especially precision irrigation,” he said.

   Legarda said organic composting should also be practiced among farmers as rice straws, animal manure, and other organic wastes are a ubiquitous source of fertilizers.

   PCAFI and the four farm-based groups have been orienting 2022 candidates on the state of Philippine agriculture and have filed the following recommendations:

  1. Allocation of at least 10% of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) budget for agriculture which is just “fair” considering its GDP contribution of 10%.  At present, the sector just gets 1.5% budget.  Livestock and poultry contributes 27.7% to agriculture while it only gets 5.6% of the budget.  Corn contributes 6.4%, but it only gets 1.7% of DA budget.
  2. Tariff collections should be used to develop the corresponding sector—Corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry tariff should be used to develop corn, fisheries, livestock and poultry sectors.
  3. The Safeguard Measures Act, Anti Dumping Act, among others, should protect local farmers from unfair competition from imports.
  4. National Irrigation Administration should be administered by DA for proper irrigation coordination.
  5. The Bureau of Agriculture Cooperatives should be created under DA
  6. Local government Units should allocate funds for agriculture extension as part of the proposed Province-led Agriculture and Fisheries Extension System (PAFES) to ensure farmers get direct assistance on technology.
  7. Convergence of DA, Department of Trade and Industry, and Department of Science and Technology to promote food and beverage manufacturing
  8. Establishment of agro-industrial hubs and corridors
  9. Passage of Land Use Bill to preserve agricultural lands
  10. Diversification of agriculture production to invest more in horticultural and industrial crops, poultry, livestock, fisheries
  11. Developing biotechnology, food science, automation, digitalization to enhance productivity and competitiveness
  12. Regreening, watershed management, and agro-forestry implementation. (Melody Mendoza Aguiba)

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