SECRETARY ARSENIO M. BALISACAN
Socioeconomic Planning Secretary and
(Delivered by Assistant Director-General Rosemarie G. Edillon)
“Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change in the Philippine Agriculture Sector”
Project Inception Workshop
13-14 January 2014; Richmonde Hotel, Quezon City
Ladies and gentlemen, good morning.
It is a pleasure and a privilege to have this opportunity to join you in this concerted effort to address agriculture issues in the context of climate change. This two-day event serves as a venue to discuss issues concerning the impact of climate change and the state of our environment and natural resources. Your presence signals your active participation in examining current agriculture policies to determine what needs to be maintained, improved and developed to protect our agricultural resources and use them in a sustainable way.
Under the umbrella program of the CGIAR Research Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) partnered with the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) to undertake the project titled Addressing the Impacts of Climate Change in the Philippine Agriculture Sector. This project aims to establish an innovative set of data models and scenarios on climate change. These models and scenarios touch on critical development issues such as food security and agriculture growth, thus, contributing valuable inputs to the national development planning process.
As outlined in the 2011-2016 Philippine Development Plan (PDP), the country’s economic blueprint, the government plays an active role in achieving food security and self-sufficiency in staples. In the Food Staples Self-Sufficiency Program (FSSP), the government through the Department of Agriculture intends to increase areas suitable to palay production as a primary strategy in achieving 100-percent rice self-sufficiency by 2014 and beyond.
However, the changing climate that partially contributed to the deteriorating condition of our environment and natural resources blurs our prospects of attaining food security. Agriculture, which serves as the country’s backbone in achieving food security and a major contributor to the economy, is highly vulnerable to the effects of inclement weather and other climate-related phenomena. In fact, partial data show that in 2013, 74 percent of estimated damages of natural disasters in the country were in the Agriculture sector. For instance, super typhoon Yolanda, internationally known as typhoon Haiyan, damaged about 600,000 hectares of agricultural lands, with an estimated 1.1 million metric tons of crops lost. These losses and damages are expected to continue to reflect in forgone production of the early 2014 crop season.
While we hope that similar events will no longer occur, we expect these extreme events and unpredictable phenomena to become the “new normal.” We cannot stop them from happening but we can at least be ready to mitigate their negative impact. We need to make full use of relevant data sets, models and scenarios in our development planning and decision-making processes towards making our agriculture sector more resilient to the changing climate. This is what this project is all about.
We are all here today to provide information, feedback, and comments on this project so we improve and strengthen our strategies moving forward. It is expected that at the end of this workshop, our partnership framework will have been established, the detailed roles and responsibilities identified, and timelines agreed upon.
We need to act fast to provide the enabling mechanisms and instruments that would allow everyone to participate in enhancing the country’s resilience to climate and disaster risks. Every delayed response entails cost and forgone opportunities that may further derail us from achieving our development goals.
I encourage you to view this project as a critical tool in attaining food security. As the PDP puts it, we need to bring about a scenario “when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.
On this note, I would like to assure you that we, in NEDA, are committed to making this project worthwhile, and even life-saving. We hope that the output will be useful in ensuring that our plans and policies are aligned with our goals of providing adequate food and securing people and their livelihoods amid continuing threats of disasters.
Thank you and we look forward to a very productive workshop.