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Climate change threatening Philippines’s food security

Thelma Cinco, head of the impact assessment and applications section of PAGASA, said the dry and wet spells brought about by El Niño and La Niña would greatly and directly affect agricultural production. File photo

MANILA, Philippines – Climate change as manifested by the destructive El Niño and La Niña phenomena is threatening the country’s food security, an official of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has warned.

Speaking before the joint House special committees on food security and climate change recently, Thelma Cinco, head of the impact assessment and applications section of PAGASA, said the dry and wet spells brought about by El Niño and La Niña would greatly and directly affect agricultural production.

She said there has been an increase in global sea surface temperature of 0.85 degree Celsius since 1880, and is projected to further go up in the coming years due to climate change.

She said the country will experience an average of 19 weather disturbances yearly, mostly during the last quarter.

Latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA) showed damage to the agriculture sector due to the dry spell reached P4.769 billion last month.

The DA said 349,620 metric tons of crops were destroyed and 121,490 farmers affected.

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Cornfields suffered the most extensive damage at P2.68 billion while damage to rice fields reached P2 billion. High-value crops recorded production losses amounting to P21.6 million.

OIC director Christopher Morales of the DA field operation service told the joint committee that the agency needed P3 billion for the implementation of its El Niño Action Plan in 2015.

Morales said the Department of Budget and Management was not able to release the amount apparently due to changes in the budgeting process.

He said the DA had to tap P900 million from its operational budget in order to implement some of its climate change mitigation programs.

Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Rodel Batocabe, chair of the House panel, said the budget for the various climate change mitigation and adaptation programs of the government, particularly those aimed at ensuring food security were included in the 2016 General Appropriations Act.

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