LT preps for climate change, farmers cease production

Slippery Slope. Hillside farmers of Talinguroy, Wangal are still utilizing the traditional Cordilleran way of planting in the mountains. These farms are currently used by BSU for varietal evaluation.


Farmers from high elevations in Wangal, Tawang, Beckel, Lubas, and Longlong, La Trinidad, Benguet ceased crop production in the months of March and April to save water as reported by the Office of the Municipal Agriculturist (OMAG).

According to Carlito Laurean, Benguet State University Vice President for Research and Extension (BSU-VPRE) and the first director of Climate Smart Agriculture Center (CSAC), La Trinidad have reached a new peak from 30”C to 31”C from its normal temperature of 15”C to 27”C. This unprecedented increase in temperature is attributed to the brewing climate change, considered as the greatest single threat facing humanity.

In an environmental forum held last May 11, BSU President Feliciano G. Calora,Jr. who served as one of the speakersdiscussed that among the  local activities contributingto climate change are kaingin, agricultural wastes with the use of pesticides and other synthetic fertilizers, and  mining. He said that these man-made activities are the main emitter of dangerous greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, Hydrofluorcarbons (HFCs), and Perfluorocarbons (PFCs).

Felicitas Ticbaen, Municipal Agriculturist, said that due to extreme weather conditions felt by the municipality, there is higher evaporation among farms especially those in elevated areas, thus diminishing the water supply. This is compounded by the fact that these higher areas which are supposed to be the headwaters of irrigation sources are being cleared to give way to farming and commercial establishments.

            “Bumaba ang level ng water for irrigation so farmers did not plant this April. Wala na kaming nagawa kaya mas naging resilient ang mga farmers (the water supply that is for irrigation lessened so the farmers did not plant this April. We could do nothing to prevent this so the farmers themselves had to adapt),” expressed Ticbaen.

Ticbaen also said that the farmers saved their water for family consumption rather than using it for crop production. She also confessed that even their office is receiving water once a week instead of the usual three times.

Nevertheless, Johnter Ambrosio, a farmer in Balili, La Trinidad, said that he did not experience the effects of El Niño because he was focused on crops that are resilient to warmer weather such as strawberries. He said that farmers who are farming potatoes, cabbage, and other temperate crops are more likely to experience the effects of it.


LT measures against water shortage

“Bimabassit ti mula, kurang ti danum sunga timatangken diyay daga. Ada kuma ti naan-anay nga source ti danum pangtulong kadagiti farmers (Crop production lessened, the water is scarce so the soil hardened. There should be an abundant source of water to help our farmers),” expressed Floresca Lucio, a farmer in Balili, La Trinidad.

As of press time, OMAG awaits the procurement of materials for the implementation of their water impoundment project. Ticbaen said that there is a four million fund allocated for the water impoundment project to be built in higher areas of  Wangal, Lubas, and Tawang.

Further, OMAG is still considering which other areas are in need of the project. The project is to be implemented after the elections, said Ticbaen.

Ticbaen also said that the OMAG have budgeted 25 million for the improvement of irrigation infrastructures in valley farms with water sources coming from Puguis, La Trinidad.

According to Laurean, the World Food Program funded BSU in the procurement of a water harvest infrastructure and water pumps to be built in Talinguroy, Wangal, and in some parts of Atok and  Buguias.

He said that these projects have already started January this year.

Photo Source: BSU-VPRE
Breaking Winds. Plastic covers and makeshift wood and metal fences (left photo) are useful in blocking winds that might harm crop production.


Alternative solutions

As of press time, the Research and Extension Office of BSU is conducting “Varietal Evaluation” program in which the academe is tasked to evaluate crops resistant to climate change conditions such as pest, drought, and typhoon.

The Agriculture sector is most vulnerable during climate change,” discussed Calora. “But, agriculture can be a part of the solution: helping people feed themselves and adapt to changing conditions while mitigating climate change.”

The Research and Extension office have so far found that cultivars like Lucky ball and Rare ball varieties of cabbage; Igorota variety of potato; and kuroda and tokita varieties of carrot are resistant to drought since they have a higher water retention capacity.

“Other than organic agriculture, BSU is also promoting infrastructures that are helpful in addressing climate change,” said Laurean. These infrastructures that are currently promoted by BSU are terraces, agroforestry farms, and wind break.

Calora further discussed that terraces are the traditional yet endangered traditional infrastructure of the Cordillerans which help crops be resilient to natural disasters such as soil erosion. Agroforestry farms and windbreak on the other hand are forms of structures that help protect the plants from strong winds and soil erosion.//Mikeen Penchog

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