NABUA, CAMARINES SUR -  To cap the completion of the 5 year implementation of the Bicol Agri-Water Project (BAWP), a Farmers’ Summit was conducted last July 14, 2017 held at the Macagang Business Center in Nabua Camarines Sur. It was attended by 462 project beneficiaries and Climate Field School graduates; 56 representatives from project partners agencies, institutions and universities. 

 This project entitled: Water Security under Climate Risks: A Philippine Climate Change Adaptation Strategy for Agriculture Sector or simply BAWP is funded by the United State Agency for International Development (USAID) and is a collaborative undertaking of government agencies, academic and research institutions and selected LGUs. These include the Philippines Los Baños Foundation Incorporated (UPLBFI), Department of Agriculture Regional Office 5 (DA RFO 5), the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the International Research Institute for Climate and Society - Columbia University (IRI-CU), the Central Bicol State University (CBSUA), and the Bicol University College of Agriculture and Forestry (BUCAF), LGU of Buhi, Polangui and Nabua.

 The primary objective of the project is to enhance the resiliency of farmers and local decision makers to adapt to climate variability and change. It envisioned to showcase climate adaptation strategies within the farming communities and promote improved watershed management strategies within the Buhi-Barit Watershed Reservation of Buhi, Camarines Sur and Quinale A Watershed of Polangui, Albay, and to minimize the effects of climate risks on lowland rice farming communities of Nabua, Camarines Sur.

The event featured exhibit of the One Town One Products (OTOP) of the three project partner LGUs namely, Buhi and Nabua in Camarines Sur and Polangui in Albay. It provided market matching and promoted local products. It also showcased good agri-practices and climate resilient strategies of the respective LGUs.

One of the highlights of the event is the turnover ceremony of the Climate-Smart Farmers’ Field School – A Facilitator’s Manual for Lowland Irrigated Agro-Ecological Zone and for Upland Agro-Ecological Zone. The said manuasl were developed under the auspices of the Bicol Agri-Water Project, in collaboration with partner agencies and universities.

The interventions discussed in the manual  came  from  available  recommended interventions coupled with local experiences and practices designed and produced as guide for instruction. This would help the trained Agricultural Extension Workers (AEWs) to provide a comprehensive, enhanced agriculture and climate information and interpretations for farmers’ guidance in their farming activities. The use of this manual is a big step towards BAWP’s goal of empowering agriculture stakeholders to be climate-resilient.

The Department of Agriculture, Regional Field Office 5 (DARFO5) distributed agri-inputs, each farmers received 1 bag certified palay seeds, 1 bag fertilizer, 2 fruit bearing seedlings and backyard vegetable seeds. Registered farmer association in the three (3) project municipalities also received 4 threshers for Buhi Camarines Sur, 1 hand tractor for Nabua, 1 corn sheller and 1 hand tractor with trailer for Polangui, Albay. 196 heads of Mallard ducks were also given to each LGUs for dispersal to the 14 project barangays. 

 In behalf of the Agricultural Training Institute Director, Dr. Luz Taposok, Mr. Vicente Dayanghirang Jr., Assistant Division Head, Policy and Planning Division, delivered Dr. Taposok’s message and grateful appreciation to the BAWP’s funding agency, project implementers and partners. He said that “One key response to the threat of climate is improving the management of irrigation water through the conduct of this Bicol Agri-Water Project. We are aware that water is one of the most valuable resources in sustaining agricultural production and climate change have resulted to inequitable distribution and inadequate supply of irrigation water, affecting rice production and sharing of water resources in the watersheds here in Camarines Sur and Albay. Climate change will definitely alter the agricultural productivity and it summons us to also change and keep up with it. Being in the agriculture sector, we are at the forefront in the country’s quest to end poverty and attain sustainable development. We are sustaining the lives of our countrymen and we must act now if we do not want to crumble or be swept away by the next flood that comes. It is up to us to build a world we want for ourselves and for our children to remember.  And this project which infuses climate resilient technologies and adaptation strategies are “public goods” that our principal clienteles – the farmers, will forever be a part of their mainstreaming activities in the farms.”

 In behalf of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 5 and Regional Director Dr. Elena B. De Los Santos, Mr. Rodel Tornilla, OIC-Regional Technical Director for Operation & Extension, expressed his gratitude to the USAID for funding the project as well as to the project partners for the collaborative efforts to make this project a success. He said that“the output of this project will be integrate to our regular activities starting next year, particularly the extension activities that we have developed such as the farmers field school of the rice program which we were discussing in the project would be converted to a Climate Smart Farmers Field School and we will use the modules that was developed during the duration of the project. In addition, through the developers' program of the DARFO5, we will adapt the Climate Extension Advisory developed through this project and integrate it to our regular extension activities to expand the coverage of this to more barangays and municipalities”

 Mr. Timothy Marlowe, Acting Chief, United States Agency for International Development Executive Office, USAID Philippines expressed his appreciation to the different partner agencies, institutions and universities. He said that “the project’s achievements would not have been possible without the significant contribution of its partners, especially to the confidence in the leadership of the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Office 5, through Regional Director Dr. Elena De Los Santos, to sustain the initiatives of the project within the region. The U.S. Government looks forward to a continuing partnership to improve the resilience of Filipino communities to natural disasters and achieve long-term food security.”

 Dr. Cely S. Binoya, Co-Principal Investigator and Gender Specialist of BAWP presented the Climate Field School- A Facilitator’s Manual for Lowland while Dr. Antonio Payonga, Dean, Graduate School, Bicol University and Co-Principal Investigator and Upland Specialist of BAWP presented the manual for upland.

 Dr. Agnes C. Rola, BAWP Project Director expressed her appreciation to partner agencies for their cooperation. She said that “In behalf of UPLBFI, in behalf of our partners, in behalf of USAID, I would like thank you all, especially to the farmers who became part of this project. The assistance will just not the end here, cause through the MAOs, through the Climate Field Schools, through the ordinances of our LGUSs, though, Seasonal Climate Extension and Advisory, hopefully we will continue what we had started and learn together.”

 Panel discussions with the experts and representatives from different partner agencies and institutions together with CFS graduates and beneficiaries was also conducted to primarily answers the queries and understand the initiative of every partners institutions to sustain the BAWP’s initiative.