Science and Environment

Filipinos benefit from climate study missions abroad

Rudy Fernandez - The Philippine Star

LOS BAÑOS, Laguna, Philippines – A total of 42 Filipino environment and agriculture officials and specialists have so far benefited from the overseas study missions in three Southeast Asian countries that shared with them their “success stories” in climate change and related initiatives.

The separate overseas trips have brought the Filipinos to Vietnam, Thailand, and most recently, Indonesia under the “Overseas Study Mission on Climate Change Adaptation and Mitigation (CCAM) Initiatives in Agriculture.”

The mission participants were mostly officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA), local government units (LGUs), non-government entities, and selected representatives of the private sector.

The study trips were organized by the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA) in collaboration with the Centro International de Agricultura Tropical (CIAT)-Regional Office for Asia based in Hanoi, Vietnam.

SEARCA is hosted by the Philippine government through the Department of Education (DepEd) in the University of the Philippines Los Baños (UPLB).

Colombia (South America)-based CIAT is one of the international centers of the Consultative Group on Agricultural Research (CGIAR) established in strategic regions of the world, among them the Los Baños-based International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). CIAT is the lead center of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security.

The overseas study tours were envisioned as means of sharing knowledge, experiences, and resources to address climate change risks in agriculture. They aimed to enhance the managerial and technical capacity of the Department of Agriculture-Adaptation and Mitigation Initiatives in Agriculture program being undertaken in partnership with SEARCA.

For instance, in the maiden mission to Vietnam, the Philippine team observed how climate-smart agriculture technologies and practices are integrated into the farmers’ management strategies 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 upscaling and outscaling of the technologies were discussed during the field visits,” mission facilitator and coordinator Rosario Bantayan reported.

Other activities visited in Vietnam included the “Safe Vegetable Production” project in Hanoi and the Climate-Smart Village in Yen Bai province.

The team that composed the second mission to Thailand included 12 officials and staff members of the Department of Agriculture, International Institute of Rural Reconstruction, and Rice Watch.

The mission to Indonesia provided the participants – 12 DA officials and staff members, one local government official, and two representatives from the private sector –new perspectives and insights on how the Indonesian government, particularly its farmers, tackles the challenges of climate change.

Bantayan reported that the trip enabled the participants to gain first-hand knowledge and information on how Indonesian institutions integrate climate change considerations and initiatives in the agriculture sector.

Indonesia is the world’s largest archipelagic country, consisting of some 17,000 islands with the majority of the total population living in marginalized environments that are susceptible to weather- and climate-related disasters.

The Indonesian government has taken research- and technology-based climate change adaptation and mitigation measures to reduce the threats to food and nutrition security.

CIAT, together with its local partner. the Jakarta-based ASEAN-German Program on Response to Climate Change, coordinated the Philippine team’s visit to various Indonesian agencies and institutions. The team included DA official Alice Ilaga and DA-Negros Island regional executive director Renato Manantan.

One of the mission’s highlights was the opportunity given to the team to interact with the rice farmers in West Java, where the first Climate Field Schools were piloted.

Through the Science Field Shops, the farmers shared with the Filipino mission team members their deeper understanding of the impact of climate change.

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