Farmers start feeling pain of climate change
September 2, 2009


Inquirer Headlines / Regions


CABANATUAN CITY, Philippines—Farmers in Nueva Ecija said the changes in the weather pattern this year have disrupted the farming cycle in the province, resulting in losses in rice harvests in March and April and delay in planting activities in June.


In a recent public hearing that discussed the impact of climate change, farmers from the cities of Muñoz, San Jose and Cabanatuan and Guimba town said unexpected rains in March and April had damaged their rice crops.


“Our happiness because of the high harvest and good buying price were doused by the unexpected heavy rains,” said Joselito Tambalo, a farmer from the Science City of Muñoz and lead convener of the Mandala Sustainable Agriculture Center.


Climate damages
“We were caught unprepared for these sudden changes in the weather patterns,” said Tambalo. “Many farmers suffered health problems due to the hot temperature during the harvesting weeks.”


He said the rains submerged their fruit-laden rice plants and damaged the grains’ quality. Grains that were sun-dried were also damaged by the rains.


The public hearing, hosted by Guimba Mayor Jose Francis Stevens Dizon, was organized by the international nongovernment organization Oxfam.


It was meant to encourage farmers and local governments to act on climate-related issues and help reduce the risk on rural communities.


Income loss
Rebecca Miranda, chair of the Nueva Ecija Women Leaders’ Council (Newlac), said farmers would have earned more if the rains did not come.


She said this situation forced farmers to sell their palay at a lower price.


Rice traders tend to offer lower buying prices of palay when the weather is bad, she said, adding that there are not enough mechanical drying facilities to save the grains from deterioration.


“Due to the losses, the lean months came early to the farmers. They didn’t have much to save during the rainy season,” Miranda said.


The lean months, usually from July to October, are called as such because farmers do not earn as they spend their savings until they could sell their next harvest.


The Rice Watch and Action Network, the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement (PRRM) and the Environmental Management Institute of the Central Luzon State University (CLSU) held prior consultations with rice farmers on the impact of climate change, and their findings were presented to the public hearing.


The groups said the farmers’ testimonies would be submitted to agencies concerned so these could draw up measures to ease the impact of climate change on agricultural areas.


Global warming was blamed largely on man made pollution and the excessive use of fossil fuels.


Efforts to curb global warming in the country, however, continue to suffer setbacks as the government still allows the construction of coal-fired power plants that are seen to contribute more greenhouse gases as a result of the use of coal, considered the dirtiest fuel in the world. Anselmo Roque, Inquirer Central Luzon




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