When we destroy something created by man, we call it vandalism. When we destroy something created by nature, we call it progress. – Ed Begley Jr.
Under the worsening and rapid impact of climate change typhoons and droughts have seemed to have become part of our daily lives despite aggressive calls and actions against environmental distractions.
PHILIPPINES’ ON ‘DEAD ZONE’
In the past 10 years environmental distractions have been quite unimaginable. The cost of lives, property, infrastructure, including agriculture have become worse as the years go by and actions intensify against “climate crisis” whose damage is clearly irreparable but only be mitigated. As the global environmental movements intensify environmental havoc comes to its worst.
Since Yolanda hit the country we are still trying to bounce back, especially the agriculture sector. According to experts, an average of 20 storms and typhoons visit the Philippines annually. This is not surprising since Philippines faces the Pacific and sits in the “ring of fire.” We are in the top 10 of the most vulnerable countries to the threat of climate change.
REAP WHAT YOU SOW
Modern infrastructures, information technology advancement, and all forms of innovations cannot compensate for the damage caused, that it has rendered environment seriously injured, meant to be suffered by generations to come.
We now reap what we have sown. By account, disasters and all forms of calamities are largely created by humans but the big culprits are scot-free living in the comforts of their countries and the small take the painful and devastating impacts of the wrath. Helplessly, Africa, Latin America, Asia must contend with floods, typhoons, earthquakes while the lives of their people are lost their economies suffer while Europe, United States and China continue to defy global agreements on climate change mitigations.
It is payback time but, how callous it can get when debtors collect the profit and the helpless indebted states and their unborn citizens, including the Philippines are already prescribed of their economic and environmental terms of payments.
According to the 2022 World Bank report, by 2050 climate change is estimated to cost the Philippine economy approximately 26 billion yearly. The report also observed that, “the Philippines has taken major steps in addressing climate change vulnerability and impacts through an ambitious policy and institutional framework that focuses on food security, resilience building, and disaster risk reduction.” Ambitious indeed.
In my calculation, Philippines agriculture loses around 5-10 billion pesos every year since 2010 with 20 calamities hitting the country annually, especially after Yolanda in 2013. Agricultural cost must not be lower than 20% and this seems to be incurable despite government’s effort of taking major steps such as climate resilient agriculture or CRA.
This, however, remains low at its success level. Natural and organic farming, mangrove restorations, agro-forestry initiatives, water conservation and community-based composting, and even biogas production are some of the major features. These need scaling up and must have significant effects.
It is low because it lacks re-investment and availability of organic inputs and quality and improved seeds have less or no access. Financial resource is the most important factor yet it is the most inadequate. Review of policies on agriculture is equally important like, what is agricultural modernization in the light of climate change challenges?
WHAT NOW NEGROS?
When typhoons hit the country it is almost impossible that Negros is spared. Our agriculture is one of the most devastated among the provinces. In hindsight, Yolanda caused tens of billions of pesos. In 2021 Odette reported damage cost around more than 30B if, not more. Typhoons Paeng and Egay damaged our major crops – rice and sugarcane significantly, costing the province hundreds of millions, if not billions once more.
On Monday, on my way home from upper east Kabankalan where Alter Trade launched its 10th edition of agro-forestry program I saw almost the whole 4th district along national highway submerged in flood water including the hospital of Bago City. We all know 4th district is the rice capital of the province and while we wait for the official damage report it can be said that agriculture as one of the main drivers of our economy once again suffered a fatal blow.
It is more than an imperative that we revisit our agriculture plan from the national level down to the community. We need not only the climate resilient agriculture but more importantly, we need re-engineering, re-investment and land use planning.*