- Written by LGOO II Judy Mae T. Magdato
- Category: News and Updates
- Published: 11 July 2018
- Hits: 1105
At the old age of 72, Rogelio Diamante cannot stop planting rice. He has mouths to feed. For him and his family, farming is more than just an occupation, it is a means of survival.
So whenever typhoons hit Dumangas, Iloilo, Rogelio cannot help but worry.
A flood-drought irony
A native of Brgy. Bacong, Rogelio is surrounded with landscapes as picturesque as the town itself. Typical coastal and agricultural scenes of fishing villages and rice farms can be seen. But behind this beauty, it seems that Dumangas can’t get a break from extreme weather associated with climate change, from droughts to floods.
Dumangas is located at the tail end of Jalaur River, a major river basin, making it a catch basin during rainy season. However, water is scarce during the dry season.
Rogelio recalled that for the past years, the floods have caused havoc and pummeled coastlines beyond recognition in the coastal barangays while the upland barangays groan of thirst under the monotonous grimace of the sun.
Farmers’ vulnerability to climate extremes
Being one of the farmers situated in a flood and drought prone municipality, Rogelio already faced numerous risks to agricultural production, undermining their food and income security including pest outbreaks and crop damage.
“We, farmers couldn’t do anything but watch our crops die.” he said.
Farmers typically rely on their agricultural productivity, any event that may affect their production can have significant impact on their income, nutrition and food security. Even moderate change in temperature affects their production.
Wake up call
The devastation brought about by these extreme weather conditions was more than enough for the local government unit of Dumangas to take action. This led for LGU-Dumangas to work with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADCP), USAID, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) and the Iloilo Provincial Agricultural Office to establish a Climate Field School (CFS) in Dumangas.
Rising to the Call: Establishment of the Climate Field School (CFS)
The CFS is a flagship activity under the Climate Change Adaptation Program aims to enhance the capacity of farmers to understand and apply climate information to reduce risk in agriculture.
The first in the Philippines and second in Asia, the Climate Field School in Dumangas was established in 2007 to provide in-depth training and skills development to help farmers sustain their livelihood. The farmers were taught how to interpret climate information and apply them in their farming and fishing practices.
The CFS have defined and applied improved theories and practices and discovered innovative approaches to managing disasters side by side with climate change adaptation.
The modules for the training were developed by agricultural technologists. Classes are conducted every Saturday over a three month period with field observation, pre-test, lecture, workshop and field tours.
The CFS’ 16 week-course includes knowing the importance of climate in plant growth and development, familiarization on forecast implementation, usage of climate parameters and instruments, learning to integrate weather and climate information on disaster management and agricultural planning; and creating awareness on disaster risk.
Climate and Weather Forecast Station
One of the vital amenities of the CFS is the Agro-Met Station which was established in 2002, a pilot project of PAGASA and by Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC).
Through this station, farmers get forecast of local weather conditions. The data sent from PAGASA is translated into layman’s terms and disseminated to the local DRRM councils, farmers and fishpond operators every day.
The person handling the CFS operations, Mr. Ricky S. Dador, OIC of Dumangas Weather Station is trained by the PAGASA to transcribe the weather forecast to the local dialect and disseminate it among the farmers.
“The weather forecast/advisory from the Agro-Met station is my basis of scheduling the activities in my farm and fishponds.” explained Rogelio.
From Indigenous to Ingenious
“Before CFS, we relied on insects to predict weather conditions.” said Rogelio.
“We don’t stop the farmers from practicing their indigenous practices in farming but we supplement them with scientific knowledge on climate change.” said Dador.
Up to Date
Currently, 992 farmers and fisher folks from 31 barangays in the Municipality of Dumangas were trained at the Climate Field School (CFS) since it produced its first batch in 2007.
The farmers learned what crops to plant at the onset of a climate event and helped them plan their farm operation calendars.
“My perspective on farming practices widened. Through the years since the program, my rice production dramatically improved and I ventured on planting other crops and vegetables as well. This led me to acquire more land, from 2 hectares in 1995, I now farm 16 hectares.” added Rogelio.
Applying his knowledge on which crops are suitable to plant during a certain weather event, Diamante now plants other crops aside from planting just rice and ventured in fishpond operations.
In 2013, Rogelio was hailed as the “Farmer of the Year” for producing 226 cavans of rice per hectare.
From 2011-2017, Dumangas remains to be the one of the dominant rice producers in Western Visayas. This success was attributed to the CFS program. The CFS records show an increase in rice production of 20 to 30 percent yield per hectare, since the program started.
There was a notable increase in the number of women who participated in the program, mostly wives of the farmers. Since, their husbands are busy in the field, the wives attend classes at the CFS and share their learnings with their husbands when they get home.
Recognizing Dumangas’ Innovative Approach
The CFS has been receiving recognition for being an effective platform for capacity building of farmers in integrating climate information in planning and decision-making.
A special citation was given to the Climate Field School, Dumangas by RDCC VI during the 2010 Gawad KALASAG Award on September 23, 2010 and was hailed as a Gawad KALASAG Awardee as Best in Community-Based DRM by NDRRMC on October 11, 2011.
Recently, the Climate Change Commission (CCC) lauded the efforts of the Municipality of Dumangas, Iloilo for their establishment of the CFS and for expanding their trainings to other municipalities in Western Visayas.
“This science-based approach and climate-resilient measure for the agriculture sector should be promoted here and abroad, so that many more LGUs and private sector proponents, as well as stakeholders, would advocate for climate-smart agriculture.” said CCC Secretary De Guzman.
On June 19-22, 2018, Dumangas Mayor Ronaldo Golez presented this local initiative during the 2018 ICLEI World Congress held at Montreal, Canada.
Every three years, ICLEI holds its World Congress to showcase how local and regional governments are advancing sustainable urban development worldwide.
Other countries like India and Myanmar were also visited by Ricky Dador to share his expertise in the Climate Field School operations of Dumangas.
Climate field schools are sprouting around the country, following that of Dumangas’ while other LGUs in Western Visayas are visiting the municipality to observe its operations.
Eugenio Decastillo Jr., Dumangas’ Municipal Agriculturist said that by 2020, all 45 barangays of Dumangas will be included in the program.
Through grounded and field-based learning, the farmers, fisher folks and their communities are becoming well prepared to adapt to the “new normal”.
For Dumangas Mayor Golez, the Climate Field School not only trains the farmers and fisher folks to adapt to climate change, but also to improve their quality of lives.
Dumangas is the first finger in the country to tip the first domino for agricultural adaptation to climate change. Others have followed their lead because in this battle, they chose not to be in the losing side.