Climate-smart village, a key towards a resilient and sustainable agriculture

Agriculture in the Philippines has been one of the drivers towards economic and social transformation. With around 40% of Filipinos involved in the sector, agriculture is indeed topping the charts when it comes to employment opportunities and maintenance of food security. But with the world’s temperature constantly heating up, the agricultural sector in the country is increasingly challenged by the impacts that climate change has brought over the years. 


Filipino farmers who greatly rely on the growth of their crops on temperature and rainfall patterns are having a difficult time working with the climate and their harvest’s demands. An example of this is the production of the Filipinos’ staple food – rice – and other primary rainfed produce in the country such as corn and coconuts.


Given this era of uncertainties, our farmers call for help and assistance to improve their resiliency on climate change and develop adaptation and mitigation practices for this phenomenon. Hence, the Department of Agriculture launched the Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture program (DA-AMIA) that aims to aid the farmers in alleviating the risks posed by extreme weather conditions and climatic shifts.


During its inception last 2014, AMIA has enabled local communities in the agri-fishery sector to pursue climate-resilient livelihoods and communities through various technological innovations. The communities then, who were able to practice and model these technologies were identified as AMIA villages.


The establishment of AMIA villages is one of the goals of the program. AMIA villages are locations that serve as practice sites where farmers can learn and apply various climate-resilient techniques introduced by the program. The selection of an AMIA village starts with a Climate Risks and Vulnerability Assessment (CRVA), followed by distinguishing the presence of farmers’ organizations, financial institutions, agricultural extension workers, LGU participation, and the identification of the area’s potential in upscaling. 


In the CALABARZON Region, selected barangays from the municipalities of Guinayangan and San Francisco were the chosen sites for the AMIA program. These municipalities are rich in natural resources yet vulnerable to climate change. Coconut, rice, and corn are their main crops and sources of income, but due to extreme weather conditions and unpredictable climate shifts, these crops were slowly diminishing their productivity and profitability. 


“Because of climate change, the rice field which is usually utilized twice a year is now only used once because of the absence of rain. Some of our farmers were not even able to plant because of longer droughts. This caused them to earn lesser than before,” said Belina Rosales, Guinayangan’s municipal agriculturist. 


“During the intervention of DA-AMIA in Quezon, in partnership with the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction (IIRR) in 2017, our farmers were taught various techniques on how to cope up with climate change. They were trained on how to plant different kinds of vegetables in times of rice off-season. Taking care of livestock such as native pigs, goats, and chickens were also introduced in their livelihood,” Rosales added.


According to Rico Locaba, the project manager of the climate-smart agriculture of IIRR, their partnership with DA Regional Field Office – CALABARZON is beneficial to the farmers in Guinayangan, Quezon. “As an NGO who aids the LGU in testing the technologies and interventions, AMIA program effectively served as the vehicle to further disseminate these to our farmers and fisherfolk.”


Guillerma Alpeler, a farmer for 12 years, from Brgy. Himbubulo Weste, Guinyangan is one of the living proofs of AMIA program’s success. As a member of the Samahan ng Manggugulay at Magpuprutas sa Bayan ng Guinyangan, AMIA helped her improved her crops and ways in farming. “They provided us initial inputs like fertilizers, seedlings, and almost all of the things we needed to start our vegetable plantation,” she added. 


“The income we got from our vegetable harvest is significantly higher compared to our income when we were just plainly reliant on the productivity of our coconut plantation or copra. I can attest to this because I, myself, was able to earn Php 9,000/per day during the harvest season of vegetables,” Alpeler said. 


As a farmer-cooperator of AMIA, Alpeler said that their learnings were taught through the Farmer Field School or FFS. Through FFS, they received training and technical assistance on how to make their fertilizers and organic pesticides. But through time, the number of farmers who continued the program decreased. As per Alpeler, this is because of the lack of interest of other farmers to the program.


Nevertheless, Alpeler added that AMIA is still very beneficial to their livelihood. “We are really fortunate to join this initiative. That’s why I pursued and continued my participation in the program. I wanted to gain more knowledge even though I was able to attend formal training before. I am very grateful to AMIA for giving us these blessings. We were now able to provide the needs of our families and most importantly form a more resilient bond within the community,” she concluded.


Mayor Cesar Isaac of Guinayangan further explained that DA-AMIA facilitated the development of agriculture in their municipality. With agriculture as the number one source of livelihood in Guinayangan, the assistance given by the program provided them alternative sources of livelihood especially now that copra, their main product from coconuts, has a low market value.


“This project by DA AMIA in collaboration with IIRR is really important because they equipped the farmers with enough knowledge in crop management, cost production, and sustainable agriculture during extreme weather conditions,” Mayor Isaac added.


Apart from Guillerma Alpeler, Jonathan de Castro from San Francisco, Quezon was also given the chance to improve his life through farming. As a long-time farmer practicing hillside farming, he was able to identify the difference on how the weather condition affected their soil and crop productivity. This phenomenon encouraged him to learn and acquire more knowledge about the climate-smart agriculture approach.


“The AMIA project was introduced here last 2017. They taught us different kinds of crop varieties together with some solutions on soil erosion,” De Castro explained. He also said that with AMIA, their prior knowledge was enhanced especially on how they manage their soil during heavy rains. 


“This is a great help for us because whenever we encountered heavy rains, we now know how to handle erosion especially that we already applied the technology introduced to us,” De Castro said. In terms of crops, De Castro testified that AMIA also presented them with different varieties that are climate resilient and can withstand extreme weather conditions.


“Before AMIA came into our barangay, the RC 18 rice variety is what we usually use during rice plantation. When the AMIA project was actualized here, the RC 282 variety was introduced to us. We saw that RC 282 was indeed more productive than RC 18. Before we used to plant 5-7 seedlings but with RC 282, 2-3 seedlings are enough”, De Castro explained. 


De Castro also encouraged his fellow farmer cooperators to believe in the process of the program so they will be able to also increase their income and uplift their way of life.


Moreover, according to Girsky Anda, the research assistant of the project launched through DA-AMIA, they conducted the Participatory Climate Risk Vulnerability Assessment first before introducing the appropriate interventions to the community. Part of it is studying the value chain of main crops and how they are affected by climate-related hazards They also assessed the adaptive capacity of the farmers and the community.


Upon finding out the situation of the barangays, they then conducted seminars on possible livelihood alternatives and how to properly manage crops such as rice, corn, ube and some livestock like native pigs and goats. In the case of San Francisco, they additionally taught the proper execution of the Sloping Agricultural Land Technology or SALT as they were prone to soil erosions and the incorporation of leguminous crops for fertilization.


“We introduced the drought-tolerant rice varieties to the farmers such as the RC 282, GSR 11, RC 27, RC 25 and much more. From the varieties introduced, the RC 282 has the highest yield. The farmers gained at least 4 tons of harvest per hectare when we tested the variety in the field. In corn, we tried the intercropping, strip cropping with legumes like peanut, soybean, and mungbean for added fertilization,” Anda further discussed.


Even though the project brought the agricultural sector of Guinyangan and San Francisco into good shape, there were still some challenges during its implementation. “It was kind of difficult during its introduction because this approach is new when it comes to agricultural development. The objective of climate-smart agriculture (CSA) is not only to increase farm productivity but also to enhance the community’s farming adaptation to climate change. In CSA, it is also important to consider technologies and farming practices that could minimize GHG emissions. Also, we had a difficulty in accessing accurate weather data due to the inadequate number of weather stations here in Quezon,” Aida Luistro, the project leader, explained.


“We promoted CSA technologies and practices to other farmers through the conduct of Farmers’ Field Day wherein, our farmer-cooperators shared their experiences and learnings in applying those technologies. We also facilitated Farmers Forum cum Planning-Workshop with the LGUs to draft a sustainability plan for the project,” Luistro added. 


With that, Guinayangan and San Francisco were considered one of the model communities in terms of climate-smart agriculture. The farmers have indeed gained resiliency over the years. Locaba from IIRR pointed out that this project gave the farmers two kinds of things – the tangible and the non-tangible.


The tangible things acquired by the farmers are food security, additional income, and value-chain while the non-tangible things are the knowledge gained through training and seminars, the cohesiveness of the community, and the good attitude towards their livelihood. Farmers are now not just resilient but also more than willing to share what they know to others and this will make a big difference especially during disasters since people will have the initiative to save other lives and not just their own.### (Chantale T. Francisco)



For more information, please contact:

Aida P. Luistro

Project Leader

Community-based Action Research for Climate-Resilient Agriculture


Tel No.: (043) 756 4962/ 981-2939 /981-29393688

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.