As an agricultural province, farmers and fisherfolk always end up the losers in the advent of climate change.
Aside from the lack of comprehensive land use plans (CLUPs), local government units also lack the municipal agricultural and the climate change caught them off guard.
Â In 2015, typhoons and El NiÃ±o damaged more than 750,000 metric tons of palay.
Months of drought extending to almost a year and the sudden flooding took toll on agriculture, in addition to the flooding on streets that caused inconveniece to motorists and the households nearby.
The Department of Agriculture now faces the challenge ofÂ making the agriculture and fishery sector resilient as it is the sector vulnerable to disasters and climate change.
The DA noted that â€œclimate change has rendered everything unpredictable in agricultureâ€ and, in fact, â€œthe first rain which marks the start of the rainy season no longer comes in Mayâ€.
On this, DA sets directions to develop and improve agri-fishery climate change resilient commodities and technologies; design and establish climate resilient agri-fishery infrastructure; establish early warning system (installation and standardized Automated Weather Stations);Â strengthen the agriculture and fishery insurance system;remap the Strategic Agricultural Fisheries Development Zone (SAFDZ) by including climate change vulnerabilities as part of mapping variables; and install climate/weather information system to farmers and fisher folks through text.
DA focuses on three major objectives- -increase the resilience to climate change risks, make food available and affordable, and increase income of farmers and fisherfolk.
ToÂ make food available and affordable for the people, the DA will focus on rice, corn, chicken, meat, milk and dairy products, fish and marine products and fruits, especially banana.
â€œSecond, we want to increase the incomes of our farmers and fisherfolk. We will focus on high value crops to generate jobs and increase foreign earnings. This includes coconut, cavendish and lacatan banana, pineapple, cacao, coffee, rubber, oil palm, abaca, shrimps, fish and marine products, seaweeds, organically grown rice and vegetables, pork, halal chicken, spices, essential oils and tropical fruits,â€ according to DA-7 Regional Director Angel Enriquez.
She said the DA direction boils down to the intention toÂ produce food and contribute to poverty reduction.
â€œOur first basic strategy will be the development of a national color-coded agriculture and fisheries map.Â This will help our farmers to know the suitable commodities that they should plant in their respective areas. At present, some of our farmers are doing trial and error in order to find out the best crops for their farm.Â With a national map, our farmers are better informed and investments are made rationally,â€ Enriquez added.
The second strategy is to support the conduct of a national food consumption quantification study which will faciliate a projection on the future consumption of Filipinos for various food commodities.
Enriquez noted that the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) has done similar surveys in the past which can be further improved.
â€œThird, we will pursue institutional restructuring and paradigm resetting for the DA. We will finalize a memorandum of agreement with DILG to detail agricultural extension workers from LGUs to DA-RFOs.Â Moreover, I had already gave the marching order to the whole DA bureacracy that corruption will not be tolerated in the Department,â€ according to Enriquez.
DA will also have an intensive technology updating and sharing, modernization and mechanization program, and an easy access financing program for farmers, fishermen and agriculture and fisheries stakeholders.
In fact, starting July this year, DA provided free crop insurance coverage to around 1.5 million farmers through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (PCIC).
DA also intends to increase competitiveness and promote value added to agricultural products through a strategic and effective post-harvest, storage and processing facility.
An aggressive marketing campaign will also be pursued, especially for high-value crops in foreign markets to generate jobs and increase the incomes of our farmers and fisherfolks.
â€œWe also need to coordinate with other government agencies to ensure the protection and preservation of water sources.Â This is due to the negative impact of climate change and it is also critical for food security such as in boosting our rice production which is the staple food of Filipinos,â€ Enriquez added.
DAÂ will also be aggressive in the enforcement of agricultural and fisheries laws to ensure the sustainability of crop production and fisheries.
â€œFor the first quarter of this year, our Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) has implemented a closed season for galunggong in Palawan.Â Our last basic strategy is the re-introduction of basic agriculture in the primary and elementary grades in the country,â€ according to Enriquez.
The re-introduction of basic agriculture in schools, will emphasize the value of the land, water and seas and the maximum but prudent utilization of these resources.
â€œRight now, the closest thing that our children has been with the farm is by playing Farmville in their laptop computers and ipad,â€ Enriquez quipped.