Climate change may still affect Benguet

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Sunday, May 13, 2012


BENGUET is not free from the effects of climate change, according to a study conducted by Benguet State University-Institute of Social Research and Development (BSU-ISRD).

The study showed that there are changes in the climate that directly and indirectly affects agriculture, biodiversity and the role of women.

Titled “Vulnerability and adaptation capacity assessment in Benguet,” the study chose four municipalities of the province representing low, medium, and high elevation areas to differentiate the experiences in the different areas.

Low elevation is represented by Barangay Bayabas in Sablan and Taloy Sur in Tuba. The medium elevation is represented by Barangay Loo in Buguias, while the high elevation is represented by Barangay Paoay in Atok.

Observed changes in climate based on 1976 to 2009 records of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) and Benguet State University-La Trinidad are increase in temperature, warmer noon and colder afternoons, longer droughts and irregular rainfall.

The study also noted some perceived effects of climate change. These are increase or introduction of new plant pest and diseases, increase or introduction of new animal plant pest and diseases, lesser crop yield, lesser water yield and increase incidence of human diseases.

In agriculture, the study found changes in the farming activities or routine. The farmers had to work at 5 a.m. until 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. until it gets dark because of the intense heat of the sun.

Also, the study discovered that there is an increase of incidence of pest and diseases, thus the farmers have increased the use of inorganic fertilizers and pesticides to correct low fertility and reduce the effects of pest and diseases.

Farmers have also looked for alternative livelihood other than farming due to low production (because of pest infestation) and low prices.

The study also revealed that farmers became careful in choosing crops and cropping systems and identifying alternative crops that are tolerant to drought and increasing temperature.

In biodiversity, the study found out that the habitat of plants and animals are altered. It said spaces for plants and animals are becoming scarce, while other resources such as water and nutrients are also inadequate.

The study predicts that as these problems worsen, more plants and animals will be included in the endangered list and eventually will vanish.

The study also highlighted the role of women in their household and agricultural work. In general, women are responsible for weeding, fertilizer application, selling of farm products and providing help during harvest, but the study found that women now also do pesticide application such as spraying and manual watering of plants as more frequent watering is needed with the increasing temperature.

Women also take the task of asking loans and solicitation of household emergency needs.

While the people have their own strategies to adapt and establish other remedies with the effects of climate change, the study pointed the need for government support in developing small water tanks to store water for irrigation purposes, cultivating of new edible plants and herbal medicine to enrich the local food sources and in establishing mechanisms of ensuring information dissemination and capacity building to farmers to guide them on farm decisions.

The study also recommended that barangay officials work with the municipal agriculturist and request an analysis of the soil fertility.

Part of the study was presented during the “National conference on gender biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge System and Practices (IKSP)” on October 2010, but the whole study was approved for dissemination last year. (Jasmin P. Kiaso)

Published in the Sun.Star Baguio newspaper on May 14, 2012.

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