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Climate - Resiliency Field School:

Promoting a Climate-Informed

Agriculture Practice



Agriculture is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts—extreme weather patterns, unexpected rainfalls, intense tropical cyclones, longer and frequent droughts—causing dramatic crop losses, lower yields, and pest infestations. Needless to say, these affect the farmers’ livelihood, particularly the poor, and pose a big threat to the people’s food security.

The farmers are inherently responsive to changes in their agro-ecosystems despite lacking the capacity to explain fully the cause of such changes. They can always bank on their rich indigenous and local knowledge and practices in responding to variations in climate elements and aberration in the rainfall patterns and intensities. Unfortunately, sustainable and appropriate farming technologies as well as climate information vital to day-to-day farming activities are neither available nor accessible to farmers. Ironically, available information, if ever there is, does not address the specific agro-climate local condition of various farming situations.

Farming communities can better adapt to the climate change impacts and manage climate risks if they are armed with skills, knowledge and information on different adaptation measures. Thus, access to appropriate technologies, timely and local climate forecast information is imperative for farming communities to manage the risks in agriculture brought by changing climate.

Climate Resiliency Field School
to improve farmer's income and livelihood

To address these needs, Rice Watch and Action Network (R1), in partnership with the Local Governments of Gerona, Tarlac and Irosin, Sorsogon; non-government organizations, Alternative Community-Centered Organizations for Rural Development (ACCORD) and Integrated Rural Development Foundation (IRDF); and the Philippine Atmospheric and Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), initiated the Climate Resiliency Field School (CrFS) towards a climate-informed, sustainable and resilient agriculture in Gerona, Tarlac and Irosin, Sorsogon from June to October 2011.

The CrFS was instrumental in providing and sharing information including climate forecast and related information, farming knowledge, technologies and skills in building and strengthening the capacities of farmers. Its concept was patterned after the Farmers Field School (FFS) which was designed for Integrated Pest Management (IPM). Like the FFS, the CrFS is a season-long training conducted in the field, learner-centered, participatory, and relies on an experiential learning approach.* The first CrFS experience was pioneered by the Municipality of Dumangas, Iloilo which they called Climate Field School.

R1’s CrFS module promotes awareness on climatic factors affecting crops, the use of a variety of climate-friendly farming approaches that not only focuses on management of a specific crop. The module inherently promotes diversification as a climate resiliency and sustainable measure. It also highlights the importance of organizing into a farmers’ organization that could help them access government support programs, as well as the necessity of crop insurance to shield the farmers from the ravage of changing climate.

The main goal of R1’s CrFS is to build and institutionalize Early Warning System (EWS) for Agriculture. A critical component of this EWS in agriculture would be the setting up of the Municipal Climate Information and Monitoring Center. This center will record local weather data, localize and disseminate weather, and climate forecast and advisories; liaise with PAGASA and determine their own climate change impact thresholds as the center moves towards a more precise, climate-informed, strictly localized municipal climate change adaptation plan.

By investing in their own weather observation instruments, recording local weather data, and capacitating personnel of the Municipal Agriculturist to understand climate/weather information, the local government will be empowered to formulate appropriate, localized advisories to help farmers in their day-to-day activities and in managing current and future climate risks.

Recently, the LGU of Irosin acquired and installed its own Automatic Weather Station (AWS). It is now being operated by the Municipal Agriculture Office. Weather parameters are now continuously monitored and automatically recorded in their computer facility. The Irosin LGU is now providing local farms with weather advisories based on the weather and climate information supplied by PAGASA on a daily basis.
The CrFS consists of more than 16 sessions covering topics on weather and climate, climate change and sustainable agriculture. It provides different learning experiences to farmers and Agricultural Technicians (ATs), aiming to(1) increase their awareness and familiarization to concepts and issues, (2) promote skills enhancement through learning by doing, and (3) encourage innovation by applying the learning.

Increased awareness, Enhanced skills and Innovations

After the CrFS, the participants gained deeper knowledge and understanding on concepts and principles of sustainable agriculture through sound soil fertility and ecological pest and nutrient management. It also enabled them to practice plan genetic resources. They are now more informed and appreciated the importance and benefits of enhancing microorganisms and micronutrients on the soil for better crop productivity through organic inputs.

“Para sa akin mas naging aware ako sa relationship ng climate at ng ecosystem kasi sang-ayon hindi na yan masyado iniintindi ng mga new generation basta para sa amin ngayon kung ano ang mas madali, kung ano ang mas magaan sa pakiramdam, kung ano ang instant, yon na. Kung baga bale wala ang side effects kaya mas preferred talaga ang mga chemicals. Because of CFS mas na-appreciate ko ang value ng mga bagay-bagay sa paligid. Natutunan ko ang paggawa at paggamit ng mga foliar fertilizers, kasi hindi naman pala complicated ang paggawa nito at nagustuhan ko ang kahalagahan nya not only sa mga tanim maging sa tao rin. Kasi tamad talaga ako gumawa ng organic fertilizer, pero ngayon na-appreciate ko na. Bilang AT, mahalaga para sa amin ang marunong kami lalo na pagdating sa pag-abuno lalo na na isinusulong ng aming ahensya sangayon ang pagamit ng mga organikong pataba,” said Arianne Dogillo, AT from Irosin, Sorsogon.

Ka Pedring Dulay, from Bularit, Gerona, Tarlac, is now convinced about the good results of SRI and organic farming after trying SRI and applying organic compost and biosprays on his small plot. He committed to continue applying SRI and organic farming on his two-hectare farm and would also plant organic vegetables.“Malaking tulong. Dati di ako naniniwala ngayon ay naniniwala na. Dati puro bagsak ngayon tumaas ang ani. Malaking bagay kaya pagyamanin at suportahan natin.”

PAGASA provided basic understanding on the science of weather and climate. The discussions increased participants’ awareness on the crop’s environment, how weather and climate deviates from its normal pattern and made the farmers to comprehend how it could affect farm production. The lectures also made the farmers realize that climate information is available and can be used to either help mitigate adverse climate impact or optimize the benefits of favorable climate conditions. They also gained better appreciation of technical terms that PAGASA uses particularly in advisories about the occurrence of tropical cyclones and seasonal patterns associated with natural climate variables. They learned that wind speed and not the amount of rainfall is the basis of typhoon signals. They were introduced to plotting tropical cyclone tracks and forecast directions based on PAGASA’s typhoon advisories. The strength and limit of climate forecasts were also discussed and how community participation will help to increase the accuracy of meteorological forecasts.

Anthony Lucero, PAGASA’s Senior Weather Specialist is one of the regular resource persons in the CrFS. Lucero said farmers learned to exercise climate risk management in their own way and reviewed their decision based on weather and climate information they could access. “Perhaps one of the most important experiences gained from the project is the opportunities for farmers and climate experts to interact and learn from each other’s experience,” Lucero added.

Interestingly, some farmers developed skills on simple weather observations and farm weather forecasting. Homer Bucad from Brgy. Bularit, Gerona, Tarlac started monitoring and recording the amount of rainfall in his field using an improvised rain gauge made from a used milk can. Bucad said Typhoon Quiel brought too much rain in Tarlac than Typhoon Pedring. Based on his rainfall recording, the rainfall amount during Quiel reached 27 cm while Pedring was at 12 cm. Ordinary rainfall averages at 1.7 to 3 cm. He also started observing, comparing and reviewing PAGASA’s advisory and forecast with traditional and local knowledge he is using.

Milagros Pacheco, Gerona’s Municipal Agriculturist, and the municipalities’ ATs sent advisories to the farmers to harvest their crops through text messaging when PAGASA announced that Typhoons Pedring and Quiel were going to hit Central Luzon. Harvest season had started in Tarlac when the two typhoons hit the country in October 2011.

The CrFS’ discussions on cropping pattern and climate related risk convinced some farmers to change and adjust their traditional planting calendar and farming practices that will be more appropriate for the expected surge of extreme weather condition and avoid the adverse impacts on their crops. For Irosin, Lucero suggested to farmer-participants and agriculturists to draw up plans so their cropping patterns and calendar will minimize production losses caused by the damaging effects of tropical cyclones. This was because of Irosin’s cropping pattern whereby harvest time usually coincides with the typhoon season in the Bicol region.

“Naaagapan ang mga pananim sa oras ng kalamidad kasi madali na sila ngayon makakuhang impormasyon tungkol sa lagay ng panahon at kung ano ang dapat na gawin sa bukirin kapag my kalamidad. Ang kaibahan ng CrFS sa FFS ay mas naintindihan ng mga magsasaka kung ang tungkol sa weather at kung paano ito gamitin. Maari nila i-adjust ang kanilang planting calendar kung sa akala nila ay maulan o mainit ang panahon ng anihan,” said Nimfa Ferolino, Irosin Municipal Agriculturist.

Other CFS Activities: AESA

The CrFS process of learning by doing was boosted with the Agro-ecosystem Analysis or (AESA) activity. It is a weekly group activity done at early morning in the farm. AESA involved field observation, analysis and decision-making. In this exercise, farmers learned observation, data recording and analysis on how different production factors such as environment, nutrients, pest and insects, weather and climate, and farming management practices affect the stages of crop development. After every analysis and group discussion, they came up with sound farm management recommendations. AESA also foster camaraderie among CrFS participants.

Varietal Trials

About 16 farmer-bred, inbred and traditional rice varieties were planted for trial. The aim was to test their adaptability and susceptibility to pest, disease, and how each variety responds to the agro-climatic condition. The trials also served as initial seed collection of farmers for their community seedbanks. In Gerona, the climate-adapted varieties are early maturing variety such as Jasmin and traditional varieties such as Pandan Wangi and Dinorado. During the rice taste test, Jasmin and Dinorado were among the tester’s favorites.


With CrFS, participants were able to visit other farms for additional learning, interaction and exposure. During the farm visit of CrFS participants from Gerona to SIBAT’s Mangarita’s organic farm in Manga, Capas, Tarlac, they learned the opportunities and prospects for marketing of organic rice and vegetables. They were also encouraged to plant organic vegetables to earn additional income.

Next steps

The potentials of the Climate Resiliency Field School are far greater than its initial vision and plans. While it can be an initial step towards achieving sustainable and resilient agriculture amidst the challenges of climate change, its use in mainstreaming climate risk management and even reducing disaster risks in other development outcomes (i.e. resilient infrastructure, health and educational services, etc.) are also becoming very evident.

The creative nature of a human mind can bring about other unique applications such as water management, transportation, tourism, public safety and other economic opportunities related that the public needs. Above all, better results can be achieved through the institutionalization of climate risk management into the local government plans to help achieve sustainable food production, optimize disaster risk reduction program and management, and provide a competitive edge for having a safety-conscious and environmentally-informed community.

For agriculture, it has provided an opportunity for local communities particularly farmers, local leaders, and ATs to experience the dynamic nature of weather and see the applicability of their learning to farm level management.

Sustaining R1 and the LGUs Partnership with PAGASA

PAGASA/DOST as a leading advocate of climate change adaptation should now consider seriously adjusting its bureaucratic structures to a level where atmospheric sciences can be made available to communities. The agency’s growing relevance in climate change adaptation work should be a signal for them to include climate extension service in their long term plan. This service’s objective is to bring climate science to local communities and allow them to actively participate in climate monitoring and documentation processes. This can be done within a cooperative framework involving other concerned agencies and groups to optimize the assessment of the full impact of climate change. This effort may help considerably speed up the country’s national and local strategic responses and bring the nation to a concerted and committed effort to implement effective and practical climate change adaptation. The development of local meteorologists similar to the Dumangas project will surely help expand and complement the warning and observation network of PAGASA, thereby, providing high resolution spatial analysis and impact assessment extremely useful to all levels of decision making.


* Farmer Field Schools for IPM. IPM DANIDA.


Written by Hazel Tanchuling and Joanna Dalusag, R1's lead persons in the Climate-Resiliency Field School project.



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