DA agency urged to target typhoon-prone areas for climate resilience projects
MANILA, Philippines — Communities hard-hit by typhoons should be targeted by projects of the Department of Agriculture’s Climate Resilient Agriculture Office (DA CRAO).
Senator Cynthia Villar, who presided over the Senate finance subcommittee hearing on the proposed 2023 budget of the CRAO and three other attached agencies of the DA, said this on Friday, stressing that the agency should focus on vulnerable areas in the country that need to improve their typhoon resilience.
“Kung hindi mo ma-solve iyong [issues sa] typhoon-prone areas, you are a failure. […] I-focus mo nalang sa lugar na laging nahi-hit ng typhoon para yung limited resources mo will amount to something,” Villar told the CRAO officials.
(If you cannot solve the issues in typhoon-prone areas, you are a failure. […] Focus on the areas that are always hit by typhoons so your limited resources will amount to something.)
CRAO earlier reported that from 2010 to 2019, typhoons made up about 83.56 percent of agricultural production losses, followed by moisture stress at 14.58 percent, and floods at 1.7 percent.
With this in mind, Villar inquired about the 44 areas included in the CRAO’s Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (Amia) villages.
Amia villages, according to the DA website, are model communities that serve as “go-to places for other communities to learn from and emulate, and where technological and institutional innovations are introduced so that these villages may have access to climate-relevant support services.”
CRAO director Alicia Ilaga said the vulnerability index of each municipality is considered in the selection process for Amia villages.
“Ang pinipili po natin iyong mataas ang vulnerability. Maraming mga magsasaka ang nandoon. Para lang po tingnan natin paano nga ba tayo magbi-build ng kakayahan ng ating magsasaka upang sila ay maging matatag,” she explained.
(We choose those with high vulnerability with many farmers, so we can plan how to build their resiliency skills.)
But Villar aired concerns with some areas chosen for the 44 Amia villages which, she claimed, were not typhoon-prone communities.
“Iyan po ay dahil may receptive po na local government unit – cooperative, receptive at active. Kasi pinipili din natin iyong mga local government na willing po. Sila po kasi ang mangunguna nito,” Ilaga defended, also noting that the selected areas have multiple climate hazards, which would be addressed through the Amia villages.
(They were also chosen because of their receptive local government unit – cooperative, receptive, and active. We also select the local governments that are willing, because they will be leading this.)
Villar then argued that if the CROA identified typhoons as the biggest factor for agricultural production losses, then it should target the areas worst hit by such calamity.
“Talaga namang common knowledge na typhoon talaga ang problema natin sa Pilipinas so iyon ang una nating lalabanan with our limited resources. Tutukan natin iyong mga typhoon-prone area,” she added.
(It’s common knowledge that typhoons are a problem in the Philippines so we should combat this first with our limited resources. Focus on the typhoon-prone areas.)
Aside from Amia villages, the CROA said it is also implementing other interventions to bolster typhoon resilience in the country, such as adjustments in the cropping calendar and the distribution of seeds and driers with generators to farmers, among others.
The proposed 2023 budget of the CROA, along with that of the Bureau of Soil and Water Management, Bureau of Agricultural Research, and Fertilizer and Pesticide Authority, was the last of DA’s attached agencies to hurdle past the Senate panel.
The 2023 spending plan of the DA, concurrently led by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr., is P163.7 billion.
– With reports from Trisha Manalaysay, INQUIRER.net trainee
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