Wikipedia defines climate change as a change in the statistical distribution of weather patterns and conditions.
Case and point: there are either more or fewer extreme weather events today because of climate change.
A number of factors have contributed to this phenomenon, including plate tectonics, volcanic eruptions and other natural events. In addition, most human activities have been discovered to contribute greatly to the progressing global warming that we are experiencing.
In light of this, the Department of Agriculture has beefed up pro-active risk strategies to strengthen the Filipino farmers’ coping mechanism and resiliency towards this extremely un-normal weather patterns.
Irrigation and water management Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala regards the Bureau of Soils and Water Management’s (BSWM) mandate “most relevant in these times” as the country, along with other nations face the challenges of providing sufficient food supply despite the dwindling soil and water resources.
BSWM has urged the formulation of national policies that will ultimately create risk information and early warning systems. According to Director Silvino Tejada, “these policies need to raise awareness for enhanced preparedness.”
He added that drought mitigation planning should be done considering all scenarios for effective drought risk-reduction and management, emergency relief and response and sustainable land use management.
Drought-tolerant varieties/crop shifting According to the Philippine Rice Research Institute, planting high-yielding, stress-tolerant rice varieties is one of the best frontline defense against climate change. As such, PhilRice recommends the field-tested variety: NSIC Rc192, which yields 3.7MT or 72 cavans per hectare within a maturity of 106 days.
The government also recommends the following drought tolerant varieties:
• NSIC Rc192 (Sahod Ulan 1)
• PSB Rc14 (Rio Grande) • PSB Rc68 (Sacobia)
• NSIC Rc272 (Sahod Ulan 2)
• NSIC Rc274 (Sahod Ulan 3)
• NSIC Rc276 (Sahod Ulan 4)
• NSIC Rc278 (Sahod Ulan 5)
• NSIC Rc280 (Sahod Ulan 6)
• NSIC Rc282 (Sahod Ulan 7)
• NSIC Rc284 (Sahod Ulan 8)
• NSIC Rc286 (Sahod Ulan `9)
• NSIC Rc288 (Sahod Ulan 10)
• NSIC Rc346 (Sahod Ulan 11)
• NSIC Rc348 (Sahod Ulan 12)
However, in place of water-hungry rice, the government campaigns for a temporary change in crops. DA strongly suggests that farmers produce cassava, purple yam, and other root crops, which require less water to survive. In some provinces, where long periods of dry spell pose a threat, regional agricultural offices distribute cassava planting materials as well as an assortment of vegetable seeds to provide optional food staples and cushion the impact of El Niño to the overall food supply.
Farmers may also choose to produce legumes such as peas, beans and peanuts. As declared by the Food and Agriculture Organization, these drought resistant crops are important food sources for good health and nutrition.
The Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC) is the implementing agency of the government’s agricultural insurance program. An attached agency of the Department of Agriculture, the PCIC’s principal mandate is to provide insurance protection to farmers against losses arising from natural calamities, plant diseases and pest infestations of their palay and corn crops as well as other crops.
As such, farmers are encouraged to insure their crops in preparation for the worst-case scenario. Once enrolled, farmers are assured of security against loss and various financial burden.
Under PCIC’s rice crop insurance program for example, the guarantee covers the cost of production inputs per farm plan and budget. Compensation range from P41,0000 to P65,000 per hectare depending on the variety planted.
Cloud-seeding and more permanent solutions
In the middle of long dry spells, it has been been proven possible to create artificial rain by injecting salt or dry ice to the upper part of cloud-formations which in turn triggers precipitation. The fluffy cotton-like cumulus clouds are the most efficient in producing rain.
Ten to eleven bags of salt are used per sortie (flight), which weighs a total of 250-275 kilos. The best time for cloud seeding is from 10 in the morning to three in the afternoon, and wind direction is crucial.
Amidst the scare over the looming effect of El Niño, the government has put in place interventions and assistance to counter its effects. Assuring the public that is on top of the situation, the DA has included every sector including the livestock and fishery sectors, and has prioritized water management and irrigation.
It is now on the lookout for more permanent solutions including the establishment of small water impounding projects in strategic areas and installation of solar-powered water pumps. # Source - (DA-AFID)/www.da.gov.ph