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PhilRice created its own hub to spearhead the planning and implementation of climate change management in relation to rice farming – the Climate Change Center (CCC). The center is tasked to conduct studies on understanding, impact assessment, and cushioning the effects of climate change to the rice industry.

The Department of Agriculture has mandated all its attached-agencies to mainstream climate change in the Department’s programs, plans, and budgets. Under last year’s memo, Secretary Proceso Alcala approved the Seven-Wide Programs on Climate Change (DA-SWPCC) to synchronize the bureaus and offices’ efforts in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

“Effects of climate change can be felt now more than ever. Our major concern in the center is to explore various ways to help our farmers adapt to it,” said Dr. Ricardo Orge, CCC director and coping with climate change program lead.

Orge emphasized the center’s vision for a climate-resilient farming system where enough food will become available to every farming household especially during adversities and calamities.

“A lot of studies show that resilience to climate change can be best achieved through diversification of sources of income. Within the context of ensuring household food security and income, we want to develop a farming system that may withstand climate-related stresses and is highly-diversified but integrated to offer farmers alternative food sources and livelihood,” Orge added.

The center’s manpower is composed of agronomists, plant pathologists, engineers, social scientists, communication specialists, and other rice researchers who study the recent climate patterns and its effects to rice farming. The CCC is expected to complement the goals of the institute’s major programs such as coping with climate change, farming without fossil fuel energy, integrated rice-based agri-biosystems among other projects that concern climate-resiliency.

In its framework, the center’s program hopes to generate new knowledge and information on climate change in identified areas, develop climate change adaptation, rice technologies and strategies, and explore other sources of food and income. Specifically, the strategies will involve variety development, pest and nutrient management, devising decision support tools, water harvesting and conservation, diversified/integrated farming, area mapping, and vulnerability studies.

“Despite the odds in our current weather conditions, we want to reassure our farmers that PhilRice will always be sensitive to addressing their needs through our strengthened R&D efforts. Their welfare is always our priority,” Orge said.

At present, the PhilRice CCC team devised a masterplan for immediate implementation to help farmers combat the impending threats of El Niño to rice production.

“We have to concretize our plans, not just write about them. In this initiative (El Niño assistance), PhilRice has started to do so and we believe we can still do more given with enough resources,” Orge said.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute