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On Sustainable Agriculture and Climate Resiliency

In a bid to promote sustainable agriculture and climate resiliency among stakeholders, a sharing of cases from three different government projects/programmes were laid on table during the afternoon session of the first day of KLM-PE 2015.

Sustainable agriculture and climate resiliency is one among the three main themes of the KLM-PE this year which is an on-going advocacy aimed to be mainstreamed for current asset reform and young farmers policy advocacy initiatives.

 Project beneficiaries, project implementers and non-government agency representatives share their experiences, good practices and lessons learned highlighting efforts in promoting sustainable agriculture and climate resiliency during the session.

From monocropping to intercropping: a reflection from Mother Nature’s wrath

Post Yolanda Farm Rehabilitation Project-AsiaDHRRA

Josephine Egana, member of Mercedez Organic Farmers and Fishers Association and a survivor of the Typhoon Yolanda devastation in 2013 said that they were assisted by the Asian partnership for the Development of Human Resources in Rural Areas (AsiaDHRRA) in restoring their farms and their lives.

Josephine narrates that before the typhoon, they just depended on coconut and cassava farming but now, they have learned how to diversify their crops through the Integrated Diversified Organic Farming System (IDOFS) program of the ASIADRRAH. She said that they are now planting vegetables, banana, sweet potato, cacao and coconut which provide their immediate and long term needs. “Less gastos at less trabaho po sa organic farming at crop diversification,” she said. Moreover, she said that they were able to maximize their farm resources through adopting these technologies

According to Cezar Belangel of AsiaDHRRA, the IDOFs program sought to respond to immediate, medium and long term needs of Yolanda victims in Samar through encouraging farmers to engage in crop diversification and organic farming.

Romulo Samson, another typhoon Yolanda survivor and president of the Quinapondan Farmers Development Association in Eastern Samar further testified how the IDOFS program helped them rebuild their lives. “For six months after Typhoon Yolanda, we only depended on relief goods then we thought of ways on how to restore our farms. First we formed our organization and registered it then PAKISAMA helped us through capacity building activities and AsiaDHRRA provided us with our capital to start restoring our farms,” he narrates. He said that they were taught to do intercropping and organic farming that made their lives in the farm much better than before. “Doble po ang aming kita dito,” he even added.

“Sana po yung panaginip namin ay panaginip din ng gobyerno at magkaisa kami sa aming mga mithiin,” Romulo pleaded as he sought continued support from the government in upholding small family farmers in the country.

Lerma Albutra Matus, a volunteer local community organizer also from Quinapondan, Eastern Samar summarizes the lessons learned drawn from the experiences of farmers in Eastern Samar where she said that farmers in their place are now investing in the future with the new and better farming technologies they have learned from IDOFS. But she also related the need of farmers to market access from the government.

For Josephine, Romulo and Lerma, Typhoon Yolanda was a blessing in disguise because it was a wakeup call to farmers like them to engage to sustainable agriculture and to become climate resilient farmers.

Integrating Indigenous knowledge and practices for Sustainable Upland Agriculture/Agroforestry: A reflection from reforestation and agroforestry project implementation in the Cordillera

-Second Highland Agriculture Resource Management (CHARM2) Project

Experiences from the northern part of Luzon were also drawn from the CHARM2 Project. Another effort that aims to promote sustainable agriculture and climate resiliency is the integration of indigenous knowledge and practices in the implementation of reforestation and agroforestry project such as the experience of CHARM2 Project.

According to Mr. Landes Teofilo and George Astudillo Jr. of CHARM2 Project, they have observed the great impact of this strategy in the success of their reforestation and agroforestry projects which also promises greater sustainability chances of these projects even after the CHARM2 Project ends.

By observing these indigenous knowledge and practices in the implementation of projects, the community are already empowered and given sense of ownership to further sustain these projects.

Their sharing also shows the need to really sustain the watershed areas of the Cordillera, being the watershed cradle of Northern Luzon, to also sustain agriculture.

Upholding Organic Agriculture for small family farmers

National Organic Agriculture Program

Chen Maglinti of Sibol ng Agham at Teknolohiya (SIBAT), an NGO assisted by the NOAP shares a showcase of organic agriculture technologies that have shown promising results that can be adopted by small family farmers for a more sustainable farming.

Sustainable agricultural technologies shared include solar-powered fertigation system, biofertilizer, rice intensification system, among others.

With these ongoing efforts, they are looking forward that government support for organic farming in the Philippines will be intensified to be able to further promote organic farming among small family farmers. //

Drawing out lessons learned for the way forward

From the sharing of experiences from the three cases above, four main lessons learned were drawn to serve as basis for the discussion on issues and recommendations in the next workshop on Nov. 26 and will be included in the drafting of action points.

 First is the need for family farmers to shift to diversified and integrated cropping from their old practice of monocropping as taken from the case of farmers in Samar.

The next lesson drawn was the need to provide family farmers a better access to appropriate sustainable agriculture technologies. There is a wide showcase of sustainable agriculture technologies in the country like those of which the SIBAT are introducing but there is a big need to bridge appropriate technologies to family farmers nationwide.

Another important lesson drawn is the appreciation of indigenous knowledge and practices in project implementation, which is proven effective as to the case of CHARM2 Project, in empowering indigenous communities to sustain their natural resources.

Lastly, there is really a need for farmers to organize themselves to give them access to government assistance like for the case of the farmers in Samar. “Kasabay ng pagbangon ng mga magsasaka, ay ang pagbangon din ng kanilang organisasyon,” said Nonoy Villas of AsiaDHRRA referring to the experience of farmers in Samar.// CFB

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