Aside from damage to property, disruption of supply chains, reduced agricultural productivity, and loss of life, climate change also intensifies financial stability risks. This was underscored by Department of Agriculture (DA) Agricultural Credit Policy Council (ACPC) Program Monitoring and Information Service Director Norman William S. Kraft during the DA ACPC and Climate Resilient Agriculture Office (CRAO) Orientation for ACPC Program Lending Conduits (PLCs) on Decision Support Tools for Climate Resilient Agriculture held in DA Bicol Compound in Pili, Camarines Sur on March 6, 2024.

“The financial industry plays an important role in the achievement of sustainable development. And since climate change greatly impacts the financial sector, the financial sector where ACPC also belongs, needs to act to effectively manage and mitigate the impact of climate-related risks,” Kraft said.

Thirty-five PLCs from Albay, Camarines Sur, Camarines Norte and Sorsogon participated in the activity that aims to discuss the tools that they can adopt to mitigate climate-related credit risks such as low repayment and promote sustainable finance.

According to Kraft, the activity was pursuant to Memorandum Circular No. 04 series of 2020 which institutionalized the CRAO and directed the DA ACPC to formulate suitable credit facility to support Climate Resilient Agri-Fishery Technology-based Enterprises (AMIA-CREATE). The DA CRAO has developed climate-risk mitigation tools through the Adaptation and Mitigation Initiative in Agriculture (AMIA) designed to identify climate risks in agricultural areas, provide localized climate information and farm advisories as well as recommendations for optimal crop and technology selection for improved agricultural production.

Among these tools are the Climate Risk Vulnerability Assessment (CRVA), a comprehensive assessment framework linked to climate risks. CRVA identifies communities that are most vulnerable to climate change. Overall vulnerability was assessed by analyzing three main indices namely exposure to climate-related risks and hazards, sensitivity of crops to changes in temperature and precipitation, and adaptive capacity or the ability of a system to adjust to climate change. She also showed the application of CRVA in the DA Philippine Rural Development Project (DA PRDP) Provincial Commodity Investment Plan (PCIP) Planners’ Portal.

AMIA Bicol Technical Staff Aileen Ibo said that CRVA guides decision-makers in determining which geographical areas require interventions the most and the types of interventions appropriate for each geographical area.

International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) Assistant Scientist Airene Claire Baradas oriented the PLCs on the Rice Crop Manager Advisory Service (RCMAS) Climate + and Agro-climatic Advisory Portal (ACAP), a collaborative effort of IRRI, Alliance of Biodiversity International and International Center for Tropical Agriculture and DA Bicol. These tools provide farmers with field-specific crop management recommendations on crop management and nutrient management.

DA CRAO Technical Staff Jatlie Talon also presented the updated version of the National Color-Coded Agricultural Guided Map (NCCAG), a database of maps featuring the natural suitability of 21 economically-important crops that are key to food security as well as the eight climate change-induced hazards based on projected climate scenarios for year 2050.

He added that using these tools, PLCs can develop forward-looking scenario-based analysis of climate risks to effectively manage climate-related credit risks.

Banco Santiago De Libon (BSDL) Project Management Head Ma. Liza Dycoco thanked the DA Bicol, the DA ACPC and the DA CRAO for the initiative saying, “Makakatulong po ito sa amin para ma-determine po namin ‘yung mga hazardous risks sa bawat area na aming nasasakupan. Makakatulong po ito sa paggawa ng credit decisions gaya ng loan amount at loan term at made-determine namin kung tama ba na magpautang o magbigay access sa mga magsasaka doon sa isang particular area.”

Meanwhile, Camarines Norte Development Cooperative (CANDEVCO) General Manager Luz R. Payla expressed her support to the adoption of the decision support tools introduced by the DA.

“Makakatulong po ito sa process ng pagpapautang sa mga magsasaka. Ito po ay mahalaga na ma-adopt. Bilang isang lending conduit, sa amin po nakasalalay ang kinabukasan ng aming mga magsasaka kaya patuloy po namin itong pauunlarin at ia-adopt sa aming coop para mas mapalago namin ang ani at kita ng aming mga magsasaka,” she said.

DA CRAO Planning Officer Colleen Joy Adarayan, who represented Director Alicia Ilaga, DA ACPC Technical Staff Bieth Gerardo, DA Bicol Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulations Dr. Edgar Madrid, OIC-Field Operations Division Chief Earl Vincent Vegas, who represented OIC-RTD for Operations Dr. Mary Grace Rodriguez, Supervising Agriculturist Maria Christina Campita, who represented Agribusiness and Marketing Assistance Division Chief Adelina Losa, DA Bicol Assistant AMIA Focal Person Sandy Bobier, and DA ACPC Project Management Officer Michael Jordan Roquid also attended the activity.

In 2023, the Philippines was on top of the Institute for International Law of Peace and World Conflict and Bündnis Entwicklung Hilft (Alliance Development Works)’ World Risk Index (WRI) as the most at-risk country among the 193 United Nations member states in terms of vulnerability to natural disasters and societal capacity to respond.

AMIA Bicol’s data shows that Bicol region recorded P33 billion worth of damages from 2010 to 2022 due to calamities. This affected 156, 682 farmers, 43.74 percent of which are rice farmers, 5.29 percent are corn farmers, high value crops, coconut, abaca and fruit-bearing trees, 41.07 percent, and 1.11 percent livestock and poultry.

Bobier recommended the Avoid, Adapt and Recover strategy to outsmart climate change. This entails adjustment of planting schedule, changing crops or crop variety, and quick recovery through insurance coverage, Survival and Recovery (SURE) Aid and Quick Response Fund (QRF).

Initiatives to promote sustainable finance definitely also require collaboration between the public sector and the private sector especially those in the private sector. -design policies and regulations that can effectively support the development of sustainable finance market.

The DA ACPC and DA CRAO Orientation for ACPC PLCs on Decision Support Tools for Climate Resilient Agriculture is the first leg of a series of orientation and workshop activities to be conducted nationwide by the DA ACPC and DA CRAO to increase awareness and knowledge about risk mitigation tools developed by AMIA and advocate reforms in policies to establish sustainable finance market. (Annielyn L. Baleza, DA RAFIS V with reports from Sandy Bobier, DA AMIA V)