Southeast Asians learn best practices in climate-smart agri in Quezon

"It takes a village to scale climate-smart agriculture."

This statement of Leocadio S. Sebastian, regional program leader for CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security in Southeast Asia, sums up the advocacy of CCAFS SEA, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), and the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) to push for the establishment of climate-smart villages (CSVs) in the Southeast Asian region to improve food security and resiliency in local communities.

SEARCA, IIRR and CCAFS SEA jointly conducted a roving workshop last July to demonstrate how local-level outscaling of climate-resilient agricultural practices can be undertaken under different agro-ecosystems and conditions in Guinayangan, Quezon province.

The workshop participants came from the ASEAN Climate Resilience Network (ASEAN-CRN). They are nationals of the Philippines, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar and Thailand.

Their field visits to key CSV sites in Guinayangan enabled them to appreciate CSVs and their potential to significantly improve food security at the community level in the face of heightened risks to agriculture-based livelihood due to changing climate.

Dr. Glenn B. Gregorio, SEARCA director, said the battle against climate change is either won or lost at the grassroots level, where localized interventions assume a pivotal role.

Sebastian added that the village is the "nucleus of social action," where real action toward climate-change mitigation and adaptation starts.

CCAFS SEA developed the CSV approach in response to the need for context-specific solutions to climate risks at the local level.

The approach enables farmers to use experiential learning to overcome challenges posed by climate change and capacitate them to establish their own CSVs.

Model CSV sites were established in the Philippines, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Vietnam to serve as platforms for CSA learning and community-based participatory action demonstrations.

The CSV in Guinayangan, Quezon, illustrates how the local government can use its natural resources to address the impacts of climate change, said Emilita Monville Oro, IIRR country director and acting regional director for Asia.

She also emphasized the importance of building the capacities of communities and local government units in scaling up initiatives on climate-smart agriculture.

The workshop discussed the key concepts and elements of the CSV as an agricultural research for development approach to addressing climate change, food and nutrition security, and livelihood development.

Participatory tools and experiences in establishing the context of CSV, particularly in the case of the Department of Agriculture's (DA) Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative (Amia) in Agriculture villages and the Guinayangan CSV were also presented.

The emerging lessons from CSVs in Southeast Asia were tackled in panel discussion by Sebastian; Perla G. Baltazar, senior technical officer at the DA Systems-wide Climate Change Office; and Dr. Julian Gonsalves, IIRR senior adviser and CCAFS project leader.

The participants visited various sites in Guinayangan, Quezon, that showcase best practices in climate-smart agriculture.

One site was Barangay Cabong Norte, where participants learned about intercropping and other interventions in an upland agricultural system, with emphasis on corn production.

They also visited Barangay Capuluan Tulon, which featured small-scale low external input, low carbon footprint methods of pig raising using resilient but improved native pig breeds as alternative source of livelihood of farmers.

The fishery and coastal agriculture site in Barangay Capuluan Central, showcased initial work on coastal reforestation and diversification of livelihoods of coastal fishing families.

Guinayangan Mayor Cesar J. Isaac III shared the local government unit's experiences on the Green Fund (payment for ecosystem services) and water resource management during the field visit to the Maulawin Spring Protected Landscape.

In Barangay Santa Cruz, the participants learned about farmers' experiences regarding agroforestry and diversification, specifically the production of chili peppers and linkage with the private sector in expanding their market.

The demo farm and eco-park managed by the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist of Guinayangan served as the last stop of the roving workshop.

The participants also visited the National Swine and Poultry Research and Development Center and the Quezon Agricultural Research and Experiment Station in Tiaong, Quezon. There they learned about the various initiatives and milestones under the DA-Amia Program, particularly the adaptation strategies and interventions implemented in the Amia village in San Francisco, Quezon.

The workshop culminated with participants sharing their best practices and experiences in CSA-related work followed by a plenary presentation of their reentry action plans.