The agriculture and fishery sector plays a major role in the country’s economy, as it provides food and vital raw materials for the rest of the economy. As the sector grows, it also benefits majority of Filipino farming and fishing families, lifting them up from poverty.
With more than two-thirds or 70% of the country’s poor coming from the rural areas where agriculture is the primary source of livelihood and employment, the present administration as well as the previous ones has consistently recognized the critical importance of the agri-fishery sector.
The major challenge facing the sector in recent years is climate change.
Despite technological advances, however, climate is one of the key factors in agricultural productivity, alongside soil fertility, water, and availability of high-yielding and pest-resistant seeds.
Hence, it would help if agricultural experts and officials were trained on how to craft policies and implement programs that would surmount challenges caused by climate change. This includes visiting other countries to learn how they adapt to climate change.
This is exactly what some officials of the Department of Agriculture did when they joined an “Overseas study on climate change adaptation and mitigation (CCAM) initiatives in agriculture in Vietnam,” from November 30 to December 4, 2015.
The study mission was organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), in collaboration with the Centro Internacional de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT) regional office for Asia, based in Hanoi, Vietnam.
The week-long visit was aimed at enhancing the managerial and technical capacity of 14 DA officials and staff members, including Mayor Macario Napulan of Miag-ao, Iloilo. Miag-ao is a seaside town, 40 kilometers west of Iloilo City, where the main campus of the University of the Philippines (UP) Visayas is located.
The study mission was envisioned as a means of sharing knowledge, experiences, and resources to address climate change risks in agriculture.
During the visit, the Philippine team observed how climate-smart agriculture (CSA) technologies and practices are integrated into the farmers’ overall management strategy to enhance their adaptive capacity and build resilience in the face of climate change.
“The various science-based information and tools, policies, and mechanisms for up-scaling and out-scaling of the technologies were discussed during the field visits,” said SEARCA program specialist Rosario Bantayan, the mission’s facilitator and coordinator.
The group also visited a “safe vegetable production” project, which demonstrates innovative and sustainable farming technologies to produce vegetables that satisfy the VietGAP (Vietnam Good Agricultural Practices) protocols and also meet the demand for food safety in vegetables and other high-value crops.
The Philippines and Vietnam are members of SEAMEO, along with the other Southeast Asian countries.
Colombia-based CIAT is one of the international centers under the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) established in strategic regions of the world, among them the Los Baños-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI).
CIAT is also the lead center of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security.