In a world of doubts and uncertainties, anticipating risks can lead to readiness – a ticket to survival. The current situation of the agriculture sector on climate change mitigation and adaptation necessitates preparedness. Knowing what is to come in the production-and-consumption equation helps ensure enough food for the people despite resurgent challenges in the given growing environment.
Efforts are in place to capacitate institutions to aptly inform policymakers on climate change and agriculture. The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), for instance, works with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) to develop and promote economic models that will quantify the impacts of climate change on Philippine agriculture.
Modelling to predict impact
Their research project, “Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change in the Philippine Agriculture Sector” puts into local setting the global perspective on climate change impact scenarios.
“If we are going to look at the effects of climate change in the world, the Philippines is just a price taker. The impact would seem very minimal. With the tools that we develop, we would be able to see realistic foresights in the different sectors” said Dr. Mercedita Sombilla, director of the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environment Staff of NEDA.
The project primarily guides policymakers in designing strategies and prioritizing investments to develop climate-resilient interventions in agriculture. The model will provide the users with better understanding of the current status and potential impacts of climate change, adaptation strategies and sustainability, investments, and supporting policies to cushion the adverse consequences.
As an initial output, the team has generated a production supply trade model that simulates policy scenarios. “It is actually a supply and demand model. If climate change puts a shock on either end, it will affect the prices and corresponding demand for commodities. The decrease in demand means lower consumption, which will eventually affect the nutrition of people. Prices will also affect income not only of the producers but also consumers of goods. It has a rippling effect,” Sombilla explained.
For the model to work, it will need inputs from stakeholders in the agriculture sector. Recommendations on means to respond to climate change will be drawn from the resulting analysis.
“We embark on a holistic approach to make sure our assumptions are valid and founded. Recommendations range from general adaptation measures to specific technologies that farmers may use and type of information to be disseminated,” added Sombilla.
Crop production at the forefront
While government focuses on improving productivity to keep prices of goods affordable to everyone, climate change is a major deterrent to such vision. The impact model puts premium on recommending strategic interventions to cushion the effects of climate change on crop production.
“Future scenario indicates a rising temperature that may devastate agricultural crops, rice in particular. The model allows us to see how that temperature will impact production and, eventually, prices. And the spillover effect goes on,” said Sombilla.
She said that knowing these pertinent information will create an outlook of what will happen both in production and consumption. The study will then suggest appropriate actions such as strengthening the R&D sector to enhance climate resiliency, and focusing government expenditures on such interventions.
“We need help from different stakeholders, especially the Department of Agriculture, to go down to the community level. We are thankful that policymakers from various agencies showed interest on the model. They acknowledge the need for evidence-based policies to support decision-making on climate change and agriculture,” said Sombilla.
The research program on Climate Change, Agriculture, and Food Security (CCAFS) co-funded the 2014-2016 project.
Resource-sharing for enhanced capacity
The CCAFS program in Southeast Asia enhances the capabilities of the public and private sectors in implementing climate change adaptation measures.
“The desired outcome is a more resilient agriculture in the region for stable food supply. Consumers, particularly low-income rural and urban people, should have adequate access to and use of quality nutritious food commodities,” said Dr. Leocadio S. Sebastian, former PhilRice Executive Director and now CCAFS program director for Southeast Asia.
The program involves research for development activities that are participatory in nature. It focuses on areas representing extreme climate challenges, agroecosystems, and landscapes. Working with national and non-government organizations, the program intends to upscale climate-smart agriculture in the local communities.
“Our smallholder landscape approach or Climate-Smart Villages facilitates more effective collective action on the impact of climate change and in mitigating its ill effects on agriculture, thus ensuring the dissemination of outputs to farmers and communities,” added Sebastian.
The scenarios that have yet to unfurl in the rice farming environment will certainly bring apprehension among farmers and other stakeholders. Yet, there exist support systems for them to successfully tread the road toward climate change mitigation and adaptation. Regardless of their respective places in the long ladder of agricultural development, sound options are set to help them get through it.