Greenpeace seeks government’s full support for climate-resilient agriculture as El Niño sets in

Press release - April 16, 2015
Quezon City— In response to mounting concerns about the possible impact of a weak El Niño on Filipino farmers, Greenpeace Philippines is calling on both the national and local governments to adopt and support policies and programs to help transition the country’s farming system towards a climate-resilient model.

In response to mounting concerns about the possible impact of a weak El Niño on Filipino farmers, Greenpeace Philippines is calling on both the national and local governments to adopt and support policies and programs to help transition the country’s farming system towards a climate-resilient model.Greenpeace recently witnessed and documented the impacts of a two month dry spell, coinciding with a weak El Niño, to local agriculture in a recent visit to North Cotabato. The municipality of M’lang, in particular, has been declared under a state-of-calamity a month after PAG-ASA declared the onset of an El Niño in March. 

Greenpeace Food and Agriculture Campaigner Wilhelmina Pelegrina said:

“I’ve just returned from a visit to North Cotabato and was struck by the number of farms and families already suffering due to the dry spell. Harvests have been reduced or lost, and families are going hungry, reinforcing the urgent need to shift our country’s agriculture system to a more climate-resilient model.

“Farmers need our help right now and support from the government and NGOs is crucial. We need to equip them with timely weather information so they can plan to adjust their farming systems and to adopt ecological farming technologies that work with diversity. Diversified cropping will provide them better protection against future crop losses and help them avoid hunger.”

Many farmers have since abandoned their rice fields leaving un-harvested rice grains which failed to develop due to the dry spell.  Records from the Provincial Risk Reduction Management Council of North Cotabato estimate the damage caused by the dry spell to M’lang’s rice crops at P42 Million. This has already impacted an estimated 503 hectares of rice land, affecting the livelihoods of 630 farmers. Reports also indicate damages among corn farmers (2.9M), small-holder banana farmers (2.9M) and rubber tree farmers (1.3M). 

Greenpeace also documented how large-scale corporate farms of bananas were affected by the dry spell.

Captain Joelito Tayco of Katipunan, M’lang, North Cotabato noted how many banana farm workers, who are wholly reliant on the plantation for income, have been personally impacted. “Around 60 farm workers were already laid-off from their work this week."

Nelson Luciano, a farmer from New Antique, has seen a significant decrease in his yields, when he harvested last February.  “I can usually harvest — from my 2 hectares — around 200 bags, but now I only harvested 130”, Luciano said. In fact, farmers who harvested rice in March experienced lesser yields and those who harvested in April were not able to get any yield at all.

“The last time we checked with the officials of M’lang, they have yet to define the details of their response plan, while waiting for the release of their calamity fund in the next few days.  While we agree in the thinking to provide food aid, seeds and organic fertilizers, we strongly urge the Philippine government to step in and set mechanisms for a more climate-resilient ecological farming system,” Pelegrina said.

While there are many areas that already employ organic farming and ecological agriculture practices, these efforts are relatively small-scale in nature.

Greenpeace recommends for national and local governments and other agencies to work together and set-up localized early warning systems, which ideally, should be at the hands of farmers, as they are directly affected by typhoons, dry spells, El Niño and other extreme weather impacts of climate change. Greenpeace is already working with partners, for example, to deploy a mobile phone text messaging service to farmers.  

“This early information system should be coupled with programs on how farmers could plant diverse crops, raise farm animals, and develop livelihood strategies to provide them with some degree of food and livelihood security,” Pelegrina said.

The permission to use Greenpeace video and photos is granted to interested media organization. 

Link to photos: 

http://photo.greenpeace.org/C.aspx?VP3=ViewBox_VPage&ALID=27MZIF323UJ1&CT=Album

For more information related to photos, please contact:

Grace Duran-Cabus
Images Producer Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines)
Mobile: 0917-6345126 Email: 

Link to video:

https://vimeo.com/124998877
Password: greenpeacesoutheastasia

For more information related to video, please contact:

Biel Calderon
Regional Video Producer Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Thailand)
Mobile Number: +66 835872600 Email:  

For general information and interview requests, please contact:

Vigie Benosa-Llorin
Media Campaigner Greenpeace Southeast Asia (Philippines)
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