French Embassy and SEARCA to hold forum on disaster resilience in the agri sector

The Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) and the Embassy of France in the Philippines will jointly convene a forum with key stakeholders of the agricultural and rural sector to tackle the interactions between disaster and the agricultural landscape.

The forum will take a close look at how various stakeholders of the sector cope with the effects of disasters in various stages, from preparation to post disaster recovery.

SEARCA Director Glenn B. Gregorio said examining agriculture-disaster interactions will also bring into the picture the link between development and vulnerability of agriculture and rural areas and will assist the deliberation of current programs and activities.

By the end of the forum, the participants would have identified the risk and needs of small farm producers to manage the effects brought by changes in climatic conditions, their current resources available, and the gaps between the needs and available resources.

Dr. Gregorio said the forum will recommend measures to address these gaps, including an effective operation, coordination, monitoring, and evaluation of the actual impacts of the substantial investments on reducing risks, and the ways to strengthening resiliency of the livelihoods of individuals, communities, and other assets.

The forum will also identify further capacity development needs of the stakeholders of agriculture and rural sector (i.e., LGUs, farm organizations and support institutions), said Dr. Pedcris Orencio, SEARCA Program Head for Research and Development.

Speakers at the forum include Dr. Gregorio; French Embassy officials Jean-Jacques Forte, Cultural and Cooperation Counsellor, and Sarah Mahe, Attaché for Science and Research Cooperation; Ms. Junko Sagara, Water Resources Specialist at Asian Development Bank (ADB); Dr. Rodel D. Lasco, Executive Director of Oscar M. Lopez Center; Ms. Eileen Bautista, Disaster Risk Reduction Program Manager at Catholic Relief Services; Mr. Philippe Couture, Director of EcoSquared; officials of the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD); and local government executives of Albay and Abra de Ilog.

To discuss the national government policy frameworks and current programs on building disaster resilient agricultural communities are Dr. Renato U. Solidum, Undersecretary for Disaster Risk Reduction-Climate Change Adaptation, Department of Science and Technology (DOST); Dr. Nieva T. Natural, Director for Agriculture, Natural Resource and Environment Staff, National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA); and Engr. Christopher V. Morales of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

Dr. Orencio said the forum also intends to develop programs for collaboration between French researchers and relevant government institutions and other stakeholders including the private sector based in the Philippines for sharing of expertise and sponsorships.