Cigarette giant Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corporation (PMFTC) led Tuesday’s, October 24, 3rd Climate Change and Agriculture Summit at the Limketkai Luxe Hotel that drew commitment from government and non-government stakeholders to help farmers' productivity growth through disaster preparedness.
Organized by the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), PMFTC, and the provincial government of Misamis Oriental, the one-day summit aimed to teach farmers and local policy-makers on how disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation can be mainstreamed into local plans and
Roman Militsyn, PFTC president, said AmCham and PMFTC agreed to bring the summit to Cagayan de Oro "to share knowledge and expertise with the people of Misamis Oriental" following the devastation that the province experienced in 2011 when Tropical Storm Sendong hit the province and city.
"You might be wondering why PMFTC is advocating for agriculture and climate change. PMFTC has evolved over the past few years from being a solely a cigarette manufacturer into an agricultural company as well, with more than 5,000 directly contracted farmers and thousands more of indirectly contracted farmers through our leaf suppliers," Militsyn said.
In the municipality of Claveria for instance, PMFTC has many farmers planting tobacco all year round.
Miitsyn said climate change has however affected the production growth of the agricultural sector, pointing out that this sector, during disasters, bears the brunt of the effects of climate change.
"We are hopeful this summit will be able to contribute to creating a more prepared community and help our farmers as well as local government units in making the agriculture sector sustainable," he said.
He said the summit's end goal is to come up with solid ation plans that will make the province better prepared in handling calamities.
Misamis Oriental Governor Yevgeny Vincente Emano for his part, said it takes a little sacrifice to address climate change.
"We are the ones responsible why we suffer the now very popular climate change. We are the ones who should be blamed. We, the caretakers of this planet, caused the damage of our environment. Butif we are willing to sacrifice, we can protect Mother Earth from further deterioration,” Emano said, even as he strongly recommends the use of organic fertilizers in the farms even if it is expensive.
The governor, a farmer himself, suggested the use of organic fertilizers to mitigate the damage of soil which could be pointed as one of the perpetrators why the environment continues to experience
“We have been abusive of our environment, our soil. One of these is the use of chemical-based fertilizers that damage our earth because of improper use of soil stimulants. Now, what suffers is our land. No matter how we plant and intend to produce as hefty as we wanted to, but we hardly can because our soil is already damaged. It is slowly dying due to the adverse effect of using chemical-based fertilizers. It’s now high time to massively promote the use of organic fertilizers. It is time to revive our land. We should engage in organic farming,” the governor said.
"Although, it will be a little difficult, a little bit challenging, a little bit expensive, but we don’t just think of what will happen today, but of the future of our children as well," he added.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, meanwhile, said he is hopeful that the Filipino people will be able to adapt to climate change, saying the humanity had overcome this struggle before.
"Climate change is a reality, but am I worried of climate change? Look at the history, millions of years ago there was climate change. So you ask me, am I afraid? No, I think humanity will survive, we will be adapt," Piñol said.
Piñol said what the humanity should be concerned about is preparing for climate change to come.
Piñol urged local government units to establish food storage depots or own food reserve for the public to consume during disasters.
"We won't repeat the mistakes of the past, together we will be able to address and avoid the ill-effects of climate change by being prepared," he said.
The first climate change summit was held in Palo, Leyte, and the second in Tuguegarao CIty, Cagayan province, both victims of super typhoons.
Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental have also been victims of killer flash floods, the most tragic of which was in 2011 when Tropical Storm Sendong hit most parts of the region.