October 31, 2022
We have been experiencing extreme weather events due to climate change. We are experiencing unusual weather conditions and abnormal weather patterns. Torrential rains and strong typhoons are becoming common leading to floods that cause heavy damage to crops. The dry season is drier and sometimes extended into the rainy season. These calamities are occurring more frequently and it is expected that they will get worse. Water supply is becoming more scarce.
Insect pest damages on crops are more prevalent. As temperature rises, insects digest food faster, therefore, damaging more crops. Crops also become more susceptible to pests when the temperature rises, which in turn affects crops’ health.
The disruption of the supply chain due to the pandemic made the situation worse. We saw a drastic rise in food prices during the start of the pandemic. In the Philippines, food prices are still rising even when the major causes of food supply disruption are now getting manageable.
If these issues are not properly addressed, food production will keep diminishing and it will be harder to provide food to all.
There are many laws and policies in the Philippines that are the basis for pursuing climate-smart and resilient agriculture. To name some, we have the Agriculture and Fisheries Modernization Act of 1997 (RA 8435), Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (RA 9003), Climate Change Act of 2009 (RA 9729), Disaster Risk Reduction Act of 2010 (RA 10121), Organic Agriculture Act of 2010 (amended by RA 11511 in 2020).
Countless programs and initiatives by the government and private entities are also in place, such as the Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA), National Organic Agriculture Program (NOAP), partnership between the Department of Agriculture–Agricultural Training Institute (DA-ATI) and farms through DA-ATI’s Learning Site for Agriculture (LSA) program, and the establishments of permaculture sites throughout the country.
Despite all these, we can wonder, how much of these programs are conveyed to the farmer stakeholders. Are these programs attractive enough to the farmers? The gap is, therefore, making these programs adaptable to the farmers.
One of the effective strategies that can be done is to involve key stakeholders in the decision process. It is important that the contributions of the farmers are recognized and appreciated and that their concerns are heard. Keep fair and healthy relationships between different institutions to build trust and make it easier to educate the farmers on climate issues.
The government must give attention to protection and security from price fluctuation of agricultural commodities. It must provide wider insurance coverage for crops and livestock, and assistance and incentives for practitioners of environment-friendly farming practices. If farmers are not economically protected, government interventions and programs will barely make an impact.
Permaculture is the combination of the words “permanent” and “culture”. Loosely, we can define permaculture as the “language of nature in designing communities.” If we apply the ethics and principles of permaculture in our personal lives, then we are living sustainably in harmony with nature.
Originally, permaculture was meant for designing agricultural landscapes which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. Now it encompasses the design of communities.
In permaculture, we utilize available resources. If water is scarce, we design the farm such that water will be utilized better and rainwater catchment in different forms may be installed. Establishing a mini-forest is a form of water catchment. A well-conditioned soil retains more water and releases it slowly, which becomes a natural source of water. Because we mimic an ecologically sound ecosystem, we also choose plant varieties that are indigenous and adaptive to the local condition.
Moreover, resources for construction such as bamboo and wildlife habitat are essential components of a permaculture site. They can be strategically placed such that they become windbreakers and protect the site from the onslaught of typhoons.
A permaculture farm or community can provide basic ecosystem services such as clean air, water supply, and regenerative resources which benefits all.
Permaculture can be learned by anybody. One can start by changing outlooks on small things, such as seeing uses for household wastes and biodegradable litter in the yard.
In designing your garden, always consider what available materials you have. Design it such that it will thrive even with less attention from you. Observe and imagine how water will flow naturally from one spot to another, you can utilize this to maximize water use and natural fertilization. In a small garden setting, graywater from the kitchen sink can be sustainable enough by letting it flow naturally through your garden.
For your plant choice, prioritize those that can grow naturally in your locality. Then, consider your favorites. As much as possible, plant vegetables and raise animals that your household needs.
Always remember, work with nature, instead of against it.