UP Resilience Institute Attended the Regional Policy Forum on the Opportunities for a Climate-Smart Food System in the Philippines

On February 7, 2019, representatives from the University of the Philippines Resilience Institute participated in the Regional Policy Forum on Opportunities for a Climate-Smart Food System in the Philippines held at the Astoria Plaza, Pasig City. The event was organized by the International Potato Center (CIP) and the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR) Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS).

The welcome address and introduction of the participants were done by Samarendu Mohanty, the Regional Director of CIP Asia. Mercedita Sombilla, Assistant Secretary of the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), gave a keynote address which highlighted the importance of climate proofing of the food system. The opening remarks on the other hand was delivered by Leocadio Sebastian from CCAFS. He listed out the different challenges and opportunities for creating policies in relation to the climate-smart food system.

A total of three sessions were organized for the Policy Forum and these are Prevailing Food Systems and Related Climate-Resilient Agriculture (CRA) Practices, Opportunities and Challenges for Climate-Resilient Agriculture, and Reflections of Policy Experts on the path ahead.

The speakers for the first session were farmers from Leyte and Tarlac. Felixberto Udtohan, a Farmer Leader from Brgy. Bato in Leyte talked about his success story in planting SP 30 sweet potato which he said is a good emergency food as what he had experienced during the Typhoon Yolanda in 2013. Sol Gonzales from Abagon Compact Farms and Seed Growers MPC and a representative from Sapang MPC both in Tarlac raised their concerns regarding the negative impacts of climate change in their community such as the lack of water and irrigation. After the farmers’ statements, a panel discussion was held with the panelist from International Institution of Rural Reconstruction, Philippine Rice Research Institute and Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the DOST. The panelists discussed the different programs their agency is conducting in relation with climate proofing the food system and with helping the farmers.

Session two included a presentation from Sampriti Baruah from CIP entitled Opportunities and Challenges for a Climate-Smart Food System: Insights from Central Luzon and Nueva Ecija. She presented solutions to the problems the farmers are experiencing in the Philippines in relation to the negative effects of climate change which are changing their planting season, looking for a new market, switching to vegetable planting, and using more organic pesticides. Perpi Tiongson from Oscar M. Lopez (OML) Center also presented the opportunities and challenges of the private actor in climate resilience. And lastly, Nicostrato Perez of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) discussed agricultural growth, climate resilience, and food security in the Philippines with the subnational impacts of selected investment strategies and policies.

The Regional Policy Forum ended with the panel discussion in session three which included panelists from NEDA, Irene Adion from the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 3, Julieta Roa from Visayas State University and Thelma Paris, a freelance consultant. The session talked about the reflections of policy experts regarding the discussion points of the day and their inputs to what can be done in order to avoid or lessen the negative impacts of climate change. Some of the policies and programs that they have mentioned are strengthening policy on types of risks, expanding public and private investments for agriculture, providing higher quality database systems for climate information, solar powered irrigation systems for the Philippines, and changing the mindset of the people towards other staple foods besides rice.