The Department of Agriculture (DA) is now pushing for stronger implementation of Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA) to minimize effect of climate change on agriculture and the environment.
Alicia Ilaga, director of the DA’s Climate Change Office, said that the Philippines, by virtue of its geographic location, has been identified by a number of global institutions including the United Nations (UN) as one of the countries most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
“With the advent of climate change, it is clear that we have to go beyond existing efforts on disaster risk reduction,” Ilaga said in a summit held recently in Tuguegarao, Cagayan.
“The AAMIA is the DA’s way of investing in climate change that is being implemented nationwide for local communities to manage climate risks while pursuing sustainable livelihoods,” she added.
Based on the preliminary results of an AMIA study, Ilaga said, the total number of hazard-prone areas in the country will increase by 32 percent by 2050. This means that almost all the entire country would be vulnerable to climate change induced extreme events.
Another AMIA study also showed that the country’s major rice bowls and all corn production areas are highly sensitive to temperature and water availability and would therefore be most affected by devastating extreme events by 2030.
As proof, Ilaga said, El Nino, which is associated with drought and floods, visits the country in two-year intervals causing loss of lives and damage to properties and food.
At least 20 typhoons enter the Philippine area of responsibility (PAR) and, with the annual monsoons, cause floods that lead to huge disasters.
The two-day summit was spearheaded by the provincial government of Cagayan, Philip Morris and Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) and the Americal Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines Inc. (AmCham).
Governor Manuel Mamba said the summit aimed to make Cagayan province resilient to climate change.
PMFTC external affairs director Bayan Elro-Tinga, said their company has been involved in various undertakings that aim to help agriculture and improve the lives of farmers. She said PMFTC has evolved over the past few years from being solely a cigarette manufacturer into an agricultural company, with thousands of directly-and indirectly contracted farmers.
“With President Rodrigo Duterte’s assumption into power, the agriculture sector was given a new lease in life and we are excited about the prospects ahead for all of us in this sector,” Tinga said.
She also added that while the summit intended to help educate the public on climate change and its adverse effects on agriculture, it also tackled other issues concerning the environment and climate change such as resilient infrastructure, disaster preparedness and risk reduction management.
Research conducted earlier by global risk analysis firm Verisk Maplecroft ranked the Philippines 80th out of 198 with “high risk” to natural hazards. It also ranked low in resilience and is deemed “high risk” partly due to entrenched corruption and high levels of poverty.
Verisk Maplecroft identified 100 cities with the greatest threats posed by natural disasters; 21 of these cities are in the Philippines. The firm said that the Philippines’ “extreme exposure” to natural hazards can be seen in the inclusion of 8 of its cities among the 10 cities in the world “most at risk.”
It listed 5 of the 8 Philippine cities on “high risk,” and their ranking in the top 10: (2nd) Tuguegarao, Cagayan Valley; (3rd) Lucena, Quezon; (4th) Manila; (5th) San Fernando, Pampanga; and (6th) Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. Of the top 10 cities “most at risk,” only Port Vila, Vanuatu (1st); and Taipei City, Taiwan (8th) are not in the Philippines.
Verisk Maplecroft said, “Understanding how, where and why those risks manifest is an imperative in managing potential shocks.” The province of Cagayan was chosen as the second venue for the summit series as it was recently devastated by super typhoon “Lawin” (international name: Haima).
The summit is being held in partnership with the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
There are some 412 participants in the summit including town and city mayors, local government unit representatives, city and municipal agriculturists, farmer leaders, representatives of various government agencies, non-government organizations, the private sector led by the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Cagayan, and those involved in disaster relief and rescue operations.