Climate-change field schools for farmers, fishers needed



By Rizal Raoul Reyes


Saturday, 03 March 2012 17:23



A LEGISLATOR recently urged the government to put up the infrastructure to guide farmers and fishermen in confronting the impact of climate change.


“Climate change is now giving our farmers and fishers complex problems. They could hardly cope with it because of their limited information on global warming, El Niño, and La Niña. The problem is, crop insurance for farmers is very limited and for fisherfolk there’s not such thing as ‘catch insurance,’” said House Deputy Speaker Lorenzo Tañada III in a press statement.


In the pre-climate change days, Tañada said Filipino farmers and fisherfolk had the knack for sensing weather behavior and conditions in planning their planting and fish catching strategies.


However, Tañada said the onset of climate change has drastically changed the scenario and Filipino farmers and fisherfolk need new knowledge to cope with the emerging weather abnormalities.


“That is why we must go full steam in creating more climate-change field schools for our farmers and fisherfolks,” said Tañada III, a the grandson of nationalist Sen. Lorenzo Tañada.


The legislators pointed out that it is quite important to push this agenda because agriculture and fishing activities depend to a large extent on prevailing climate conditions.


“Climate behavior is becoming unpredictable. We cannot leave our farmers and fisherfolks alone in dealing with hostile weather. They must be armed with the new knowledge to deal with these challenges,” Tañada said.


He said, “Farmers must be ready with the adaptive strategies and technologies to address erratic weather conditions. The dilemma really is that we either have too much or too little of rain, or, it comes to late or too soon.”


“The Department of Agriculture, together with different agencies, must lead to charge to go full steam in establishing climate field schools to climate-proof agriculture. There are also a NGOs [number of nongovernmental organizations] that must be tapped and further encouraged, like Rice Watch and Action Network that work hand in hand with [the weather bureau], now training farmers and helping LGUs [local government units] in their municipal planning to integrate climate-change adaptation measures,” the three-term congressman from Quezon province said.


Tañada noted that while determining adaptive strategies for coastal fisheries to cope with climate change, “we have to monitor bleaching events in coral reefs within our seawater territory.”


“Coral bleaching, caused mainly by small increases in sea temperatures, affects the corals’ capability to attract algae that literally provide fish with food as humans have it on the table. That is why coral reefs are sanctuaries to fishes.”


Tañada also cited observations and studies on the reactions of fishes to relatively small temperature changes which impact on their distribution, resulting in abundance in one area, and scarcity in another.”


“We are now experiencing this phenomenon in our staple galunggong [round scad]. Before our waters were teeming with that species. Now, part of our supplies of the fish staple is imported from Japan,” he said.









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