TienDA Farmers and Fisherfolks Outlet Launch

July 28, 2017

Speech of Senator Loren Legarda

TienDA Farmers and Fisherfolks Outlet Launch

28 July 2017 | Bureau of Plant Industry Compound, Manila

Foremost, allow me to congratulate the Department of Agriculture (DA) for this laudable initiative of bringing the farmers and fisherfolks closer to the consumers and, vice versa, for giving the consumers the chance to buy directly from our farmers and fisherfolks. As a consumer myself, there is nothing better than purchasing directly from those who produced the food we eat.

While I do not wish to spoil this momentous occasion, I need to be straightforward: We would not have more of these affairs if we do not address climate change impacts, which is a great threat to food security.

No less than President Rodrigo Duterte, during his 2nd State of the Nation Address (SONA), recognized that climate change would affect food production.

Filipinos are rice-loving citizens and we get much of our animal protein needs from the seas. These are all affected by the warming climate.

Allow me to cite some studies and statistics:

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) forecasts that by 2050 rice prices will increase between 32 and 37% as a result of climate change and that yield losses in rice could be between 10 and 15%.[1]

This is likely to happen considering that typhoons, floods and droughts from 1970 to 1990 resulted in an 82.4% loss in total Philippine rice production. Moreover, the El Niño-related drought from 1990 to 2003 is estimated to have caused US$ 370 million in damages to agriculture.

In 2016, even our own farmers who till the land were begging for food as their farms were greatly affected by the drought caused by El Niño. This caused a protest in Kidapawan, which ended in a bloody dispersal that killed at least three farmers.

Meanwhile, our oceans have acidified having absorbed about a third of the carbon dioxide emitted in the atmosphere.

Rising sea surface temperatures and ocean acidification are projected to cause major damage to coral reef systems.

Coral reefs are the food basket for the fish. A square kilometer of healthy coral reef may yield to about 30 tons of seafood every year.[2]But sea level rise, floods that damage fish farms, and increased acidification of the oceans by 2050 could reduce farmed fish yield by 90%.

The destruction of coral reefs, whether due to coral bleaching or destructive fishing practices, would translate to lower fish catch and lower protein for the people.

Thus, it is to our advantage that our communities adapt to climate change impacts and mitigate further warming.

We have several communities that have established Climate Field Schools to teach farmers and fisherfolks strategies to cope with climate variability affecting the crops and fish yield.

Dumangas in Iloilo, Canaman in Camarines Sur and Sorsogon, Sorsogon, which are among the 10 recipients of the inaugural Climate-Adaptive and Disaster-Resilient (CLAD) Awards, have these climate field schools, which could be the prototype for other communities. We need to provide our farmers and fisherfolks practical skills and knowledge about adjusting their practices to consider climate change impacts.

In terms of legislation, we are working on several measures to help our farmers and fisherfolks.

In the 2017 national budget, we provided additional two billion pesos in the budget of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to subsidize the irrigation service fees (ISF) being paid by farmers.

The better news is that we are a step closer to institutionalizing free irrigation for small farmers as the Senate has approved on third reading the proposed Free Irrigation Act last Tuesday.

This measure will provide free irrigation services to small farmers by exempting them from the payment of irrigation service fees for water derived from national irrigation systems and communal irrigation systems that were and are funded, constructed, maintained and administered by the NIA and other government agencies, including those turned over to irrigation systems.

Meanwhile, the Senate has also approved on third reading the proposed Expanded National Integrated Protected Areas System (NIPAS) Act, which will secure the remaining protected areas in the country through strengthening access to funding and prosecution of prohibited acts. Through the measure, local communities and stakeholders will be able to do more to participate in the management and protection of our natural resources in critical areas, including watersheds, marine sanctuaries, wetlands, tropical forests, coastal areas, among others.

Effectively managed protected areas play a critical role in the country’s food security.

In closing, I wish to stress that, we have been blessed with the bounties of the Earth. Our land and seas are abundant, filled with thousands of species, many yet to be discovered even. But amid this abundance, we must not be unmindful. There is a future and resources need to be protected and conserved for those who will be born beyond our time.

The climate crisis poses many development challenges, but it also presents the opportunity to promote sustainable growth for our own survival and for the generations to come.

Let us all practice sustainable farming and fishing so that we continue to enjoy more of this TienDA Farmers and Fisherfolks Outlet in more areas in the country. Let us practice a sustainable lifestyle so that our children and our children’s children would enjoy the abundance of Mother Earth.***


[1] Climate Change: Impact on Agriculture and Costs of Adaptation, IFPRI

[2] The Philippines: A Hunt For Marine Treasure, WWF 2014