|Researchers from the Philippines pose with Ir. Rachmat Witoelar (3rd from left, front row), presidential special envoy on climate change of the National Council for climate change (Dewan National Perubahan Iklim or DNP) anf his staff. DNPI is the counterpart of the Philippines Climate Change Commission.
Photo courtesy of: AVELASCO
Today, the manifestations of climate change are slowly emerging and without a doubt, the earth is bearing its presence in the drying fields and melting glaciers. And so with all these distress signals, the world is now focusing its attention to climate change concerns and issues.
The Bureau of Agricultural Research (BAR) also recognizes the urgency to take action and so early last year it conducted a consultation meeting to address climate change. This is a collaborative effort among concerned agencies participated in by: University of the Philippines Diliman (UPD), UP-Marine Science Institute (MSI), UP Los Baños (UPLB), School of Environmental Science and Management (SESAM), UPLB-Graduate School (GS), Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (SEARCA), Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA). BAR together with the various participants crafted the Climate Change (CC) RDE Agenda.
In its effort to improve the RDE Agenda, BAR has been sending representatives to different Asian nations to observe and learn different climate change RDE programs, policies,adaptation and mitigation strategies that can also be applied in the Philippines. One of the recent Asian countries visited was Indonesia.
BAR sent six researchers/research managers mostly from the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA). They were: Dr. Francisco Geromo, RIARC manager of DA-RFU 9; Marissa Luna, RIARC manager of DA-RFU IVB; Wilfreda Maslog, RIARC manager of DA-RFU CARAGA; Lea Tumabiene, RFRDC manager of DA-BFAR 8; Amavel Velasco of DA-BAR; and Julienne Bariuan of SEARCA.
|Participants discuss with the deputy director for life sciences at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences of the Lembaga Ilmu Pengetahuan Indonesia (LIPI).
Photo courtesy of: AVELASCO
The exposure visit is one of the components of the BAR-SEARCA project titled "Capability Building on Responding to Climate Change through Research and Development in Agriculture" which aims to enhance the capacity of DA R&D managers and researchers in addressing RDE issues and concerns related to climate change.
Both the Philippines and Indonesia are considered biodiversity hotspots. Indonesia, like the Philippines, is also archipelagic and has small islands that are in danger of vanishing once there is a drastic sea level rise due to the melting of the polar icecap in the north brought about by the increasing global temperature.
Battling climate change is a Herculean task. With the increasing number of mouths to feed, climate change threatens food security. Farmers and fisherfolk, and the agricultural sector as a whole, are the most likely affected, hence the most vulnerable to climate change for they are usually under the mercy of the climate and the weather. Skills, knowledge and technologies are therefore needed in order for the researchers to help the farmers face the challenges of climate change.
Since climate change is a global challenge, it has to be addressed by each and every nation. BAR believes in the multi-agency initiatives to battle climate and that is why, another objective of the exposure visit is to explore and strengthen partnerships and collaboration between DA and other RDE institutions in other countries to work together.
|A researcher from the Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Tropical Biology (BIOTROP), shows his invented machine that can make bioethanol from sweet sorghum.
Photo courtesy of: AVELASCO
In view of this, the group visited various institutions in Indonesia that are engaged in climate change RDE. Among these included the: Ministry of National Education, Indonesian Institute of Sciences, National Council for Climate Change, Ministry of Agriculture, Bogor Agricultural University, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF), Southeast Asian Regional Centre for Tropical Biology (BIOTROP), Center for Climate Risk and Opportunity Management in Southeast Asia and the Pacific (CCROM SEAP) and the Agroclimate and Hydrology Research Institute, and the Indonesian Agency for Agricultural Research and Development (IAARD).
Some of the lessons learned by the group from these institutions were the following:
- Need to capitalize and enhance the Philippine's bargaining power (based on the amount of foreign funding for research that Indonesian institutes have, their government diplomats have good bargaining power);
- Proper orientation of the issues of climate change particularly for the provincial and municipal governments, since they implement the projects initiated by the national governement in the regions;
- Enhance Filipino sense of nationalism so that "great minds" stay in the country and helps in the improvement and development;
- Create awareness and concern for the nature among the youth;
- Inventory of projects related to climate change;
- Consider existing indigenous information/technologies and not just focus on developing new ones;
- Develop technologies that are easily understood and adopted by farmers; and
- Availabilty and accessibility of information about climate change for the farmers.
The study visit, held on 22-28 August 2010, was organized and facilitated by SEARCA.