EDITORIAL

Improving agri systems

THE STATE weather bureau has warned of an impending La Niña.Has the government already prepared farming communities to adapt to the phenomenon? We can utilize the research programs of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to improve agricultural systems in the country and to adapt to the changing climate.
Our government agencies, especially the Department of Agriculture (DA), should strengthen their collaboration with the IRRI. Many of the IRRI’s programs would help the government proactively address climate change challenges to the agriculture sector — such as the floods of La Niña or the drought caused by El Niño — not only through drought-tolerant crops but also through water-saving technologies such as the alternate wetting and drying. The IRRI, for example, has the SUB1 variety of rice that can withstand floods up to 17 days.
Several programs of the IRRI are already being done in other countries. Why can’t the Philippines have them, too? In India, women are being empowered and provided livelihood through community nursery services; while in the Mekong Delta, climate-smart villages have been established to improve the capability of rural communities to adapt to and mitigate the impacts of climate change.
We must employ these programs here in the Philippines. The community nurseries will help further our initiatives to capacitate women to redefine rice farming. The climate-smart villages are much needed to improve resilience of farming communities to climate challenges. The DA, the Climate Change Commission, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources should also collaborate with the IRRI in the conduct of capacity-building workshops for local government units (LGUs) from the provincial down to the barangay level.
We are fortunate that the IRRI headquarters is here in our country. We should take hold of that opportunity to improve our agricultural systems and farming communities.

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