Legarda cites need for adoption of agro-forestry initiatives

October 11, 2009 9:49 pm 

ILOILO CITY, Oct. 12 — Sen. Loren Legarda Monday called for the adoption of agro-forestry initiatives as a means to prevent destructive floods and mitigate natural disasters aggravated by climate change.

In a keynote speech at a workshop here on “Climate Change Adaptation through Agroforestry” attended by governors and mayors in the Visayan region, Legarda warned that variations in weather conditions wrought by climate change could result in drastic reductions in world food supply.

“All the climatic changes -in temperature, rainfall, sea level- present severe problems for a country that is highly reliant on agriculture for livelihood and sustenance. These changes would be disastrous to agriculture and forestry, among others,” she declared.

“Crop yield potential is estimated to decline by 19 percent in Asia toward the end of the century and rice yield in the Philippines would decline by 75 percent. The varying lengths of the rainy and the dry seasons will require a different cycle of crop planting. Frequent flooding due to the increasing number of typhoons will likewise impair food production.”

Legarda explained that agroforestry is a combined solution to the problems in agriculture and environment. “It serves the dual function of addressing food security and maintaining a balanced ecosystem. Through agroforestry, farmers’ incomes are augmented, since cash crops are planted simultaneously with forest trees," she said.

“This in turn translates to greater access to health services, food, shelter, etc… Agroforestry is a good example of adaptation action to climate change with positive mitigation effect. Agroforestry has high carbon sequestration capacity, averaging at 50 tons per hectare for humid zones of which the Philippines is an example.”

To promote agroforestry, Legarda urged the local government officials and other government representatives present to raise public awareness of the impacts of climate change and the benefits of promoting agroforestry to enhance the country’s productivity and adaptive capacity.

She also called for central government-local government coordination, planning and funding to boost agroforestry, improve compilation of scientific data to enable farmers to adjust their planting practices and to develop an effective system for disseminating technologies to agroforestry farmers.

“Tropical storm Ondoy recently reminded us that words alone are not enough to address climate change. We need to start doing something lest our roadmaps, action plans, and blueprints be washed away by swelling floods,” said Legarda.

As chair of the Standing committees on Climate Change and Agriculture, the Oversight Committee on Climate Change and Congressional Oversight Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization, Legarda cited her successful legislative efforts to convince her colleagues to pass legislation adapting to climate change.

She mentioned the Climate Change Act of 2009, which was recently passed by Congress, and is now pending the signature of the president.

“Through this measure, we can speed up the capacity building for local adaptation planning, implementation and monitoring of climate change initiatives in vulnerable communities,” she declared.

She also co-sponsored the Disaster Risk Reduction, Management and Recovery Act which aims to shift from a reactive to a pro-active approach to disaster risk’ management.

Through this bill, the local and national calamity funds can be used for climate change-related activities and not just for post-disaster response.

As the UN Regional Champion for Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation for Asia-Pacific, she has also been going around the Asian region in the last several months campaigning for international cooperation in coping with climate change. (PNA) LDV/NAGobuyan/vlo

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