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PH backs new climate-smart agri, food innovation initiative

The Philippines assured supporting the goals of Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM4C), a United Arab Emirates-United States (UAE-US) initiative in which this primarily agricultural but climate change-threatened country is participating in.

Launched at the ongoing 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) in Scotland’s city of Glasgow, AIM4C urges increasing and accelerating investments in and partnerships on climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation worldwide during the 2021-2025 period to help promote food security, climate health and farmers’ well-being.

“The Philippines fully supports goals of AIM4C,” Department of Agriculture (DA) Secretary William Dar said in his message aired during the conference’s virtual session about this initiative.

He acknowledged climate change is adversely affecting Earth.

“Our planet is in peril but there is still hope,” he said.

Science-based interventions and innovations are essential in helping agriculture cope with and build resilience to the changing climate, he noted.

“We in the agriculture sector believe that science and innovation is our hope for survival and progress in a changing climate,” he said.

AIM4C also believes technology and innovation can help reduce or mitigate agriculture’s estimated 25 percent contribution to total global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that are driving climate change which, in turn, is adversely affecting this sector.

“It’s important for us to accelerate significantly the innovations necessary for agriculture to be, I think, an early leader in this effort to reduce emissions and sort of control the temperature,” US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Thomas Vilsack said at the session.

To lead such effort, he said agriculture must be engaged.

“For agriculture to be engaged, it has to be through innovation and technology,” he continued.

According to experts, GHG emissions from agriculture and other sources accumulate in the atmosphere and trap heat so Earth is warming, changing climate.

They said the Philippines accounts for less than 1 percent of GHG emissions worldwide.

The archipelagic Philippines is among countries most vulnerable to and at risk for climate change’s impacts, however, they noted.

Such impacts are increasing the frequency of extreme weather events as well as sea level and temperature rise, they said.

DA and its partners earlier estimated that by 2050, climate change can cost the Philippine economy some USD520 million annually.

Increased water and heat stress from climate change can decrease crop yield, increase pest and disease incidence as well as shift crop production suitability, the partners noted.

Rice is a staple crop in the Philippines.

Philippine climate scientist and Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change author Lourdes Tibig in a local forum earlier said climate change is threatening rice production nationwide

She said climate projections suggest that if unabated warming persists, temperature by this century’s end may already exceed known rice production limits.

That indicates climate change has the potential to disrupt crop productivity, she said.

Such disruption will affect domestic agricultural production, consumption, and food security, she noted.

Among climate resilience-building practices in Philippine agriculture are using stress-tolerant plant varieties, water harvesting technologies and adaptive cropping calendars as well as implementing crop management and agroforestry systems.

Over 70 countries and organizations already joined AIM4C, noted UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment HE Mariam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri.

“The past few months have been about mobilizing the political support and investments for AIM4C, of course with support of the US and our partners, and having these partners and investments that are onboard right now have been fantastic,” she said at the session.

Forthcoming AIM4C activities include looking at joint implementation plans and priority areas as well as the possibility of holding annual ministerial meetings which the initiative’s participants can join to tackle various concerns, she noted.

This week, USDA announced AIM4C already garnered an “early harvest” of USD4 billion in increased investments for climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation during this initiative’s five-year period.

USDA said AIM4C partners “are mobilizing this investment to close the global investment gap in climate-smart agriculture and food systems innovation.”

Aside from the Philippines, UAE and the US, AIM4C said its participant-countries include Australia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Brazil, Burkina Faso, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, Finland, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Japan, Kenya, Lithuania, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, Romania, Singapore, Sweden, the Bahamas, Ukraine, United Kingdom, Uruguay and Vietnam.*PNA

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