Making Farming Climate Change Resilient

By Sherma E Benosa

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

As the threat of climate change paints a dark picture—wide-scale destruction, hunger, and loss of properties and lives—collective action at a global scale is crucial in order to mitigate these negative effects.

SEARICE works with its partners to help farming communities become adaptive and resilient to the impacts of climate change.

 

By introducing climate-adaptive technologies.

Regulated Irrigation Technique. Traditional rice-growing method involves flooding rice paddies, which requires large volume of water. With this method, rice cannot be planted in areas with minimal water supply.

The regulated irrigation technique controls water use. Water is supplied only as needed, and the rice paddy need not be flooded; just saturated. This method, introduced and tested in 77 seed clubs in the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, proved to be a suitable climate change adaptation practice. The farms that used this technique saved 50% on irrigation water. Farmers who applied the model in the wet season of 2014 reported a 30% reduction of seed rate, 20% reduction of nitrogen fertilizer, reduction of water need, and less pesticide use. The farmers concluded that this technique could be adopted in rice production areas with great water shortage.

Crop Diversification. In two Vietnam provinces, An Giang and Tien Giang, diversifying cropping patterns through crop rotation was introduced. Three patterns showed the best returns: rice-melon-flower, rice-melon-maize, and 2 rice-melon. However, more fertilizer was used in the cropping patterns with maize and melon compared to rice monoculture. Hence, more experiments are being conducted by farmers to reduce fertilizer use.

 

By lobbying for policies that ultimately result in the institutionalization of measures adaptive to climate change

SEARICE actively lobbies for the adoption of measures to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Since 2013, SEARICE has taken the lead role in the agriculture thematic group in Aksyon Klima, one of the networks SEARICE actively engages with, in crafting positions on climate issues. Aksyon Klima is a network of CSOs in the Philippines focused on climate change. SEARICE also worked with the Philippine delegation in lobbying for adaptation support for smallholder farmers in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) Conference of the Parties (COP).

 

By Enriching agricultural biodiversity

A healthy agricultural biodiversity is crucial in mitigating the negative effects of climate change. As pointed out by SEARICE Executive Director, Normita Ignacio: “We must give agricultural biodiversity our utmost attention. Without agricultural biodiversity, there is no way we can cope with the changing climate. That is why we work closely with farmers. Farmers are more than just producers of food. They are the real stewards of agricultural biodiversity.”

SEARICE’s work on seeds with its farmer partners ultimately results in enriching agricultural biodiversity. By developing and using genetically diverse varieties that are adapted to their local conditions, farmers greatly help in diversifying the biodiversity. Thus far, hundreds of varieties have been developed by farmers.

By conscienticizing farmers on the negative effects of climate change

Through the FFS sessions, SEARICE’s farmer partners realized the need for communities to act collectively to become resilient to climate change. Among the strategies they came up with include selecting and planting varieties with short maturity period to escape unfavorable climatic conditions such as drought and establishing seed banks to have buffer stocks in case of crop failure.

 

By initiating regional collective action

 

With SEARICE in the lead, five countries—Bhutan, Cambodia, Lao PDR, the Philippines, and Vietnam—formulated their individual Strategic Action Plan (SAP) for plant genetic resources adaptation and management in relation to climate change.

The process involved participatory researches, local and national consultations, and advocacy towards the adoption of their National SAP. The participatory researches involved in-depth studies on the state of agriculture and important PGRs and their vulnerability to climate change. The resulting SAPs had three components: capacity building, policy advocacy, and technical support.

[Published in BREEDING CHANGE, SEARICE 2014-2015 Report.]

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Photos are contributed by SEARICE staff and partner organizations and government agencies.