Policy discord derailing PHL campaign vs. climate change’

MANILA -- An expert raised urgency for harmonizing government policies relevant to bolstering Philippine agriculture's resilience to climate change.

University of the Philippines-Los Banos College of Forestry professor Dr. Rex Victor Cruz recommended such move, noting discord among some government policies at present slowed down the agricultural sector's resilience-building efforts.

"Government agencies concerned must coordinate with one another to avoid setting contradicting policies," he said Thursday (Feb. 23) on the side of a Philippine Agricultural Journalists Inc. forum in Metro Manila.

Increasing intensity of tropical cyclones (TCs) in the country was one reason to better brace for climate change, Cruz said.

"Evidence points to the fact that such intensification can already be attributed to climate change," he said.

Previous TCs in the country weren't as frequent as these were at present, he saaid.

"Excessive rainfall events also increased in recent years and proved damaging to agriculture," he also said.

Cruz noted among policy discords needing action is government's thrust under RA 8435 (Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997) to protect agricultural land from unlawful conversion and LGUs' claim of autonomy under RA 7160 (Local Government Code of 1991) to convert land.

He believes enacting a national land use law will help address such conflict.

"A lot can be gained from zoning the entire landscape where agriculture operates," he said.

Such benefits could range from identifying crops suitable for planting in an area to improving farmers' income, he said.

Cruz said Department of Agriculture (DA) need not wait for government to enact a national land use law that'll help realize such benefits for the country, however.

DA itself could initiate and push for land use and zoning that would guide agricultural development nationwide, he said.

Climate change's manifestations highlight need for smartagriculture, noted International Rice Research Institute senior scientist Dr. Reiner Wassman.

He sees need for sustaining initiatives that will help promote climate-smart agriculture, which is a means for guiding action needed to transform and re-orient agricultural systems towards ensuring food security amidst the changing climate.

"Agriculture must be sustainable also," he said at the forum.

Achieving smart agriculture and addressing climate change needs support at the local level, noted Dr. Julian Gonsalves who is a senior consultant at International Institute for Rural Reconstruction.

"What we need to do is bring action down to the local level where this is needed most," he said at the forum.

He noted location-specific solutions were necessary since climate change affected areas differently.

Incremental adaptation of such solutions would help scale up climate-smart agriculture at the local level, he added. (PNA)

Source: Philippines News Agency