I WAS involved with the organic agriculture as the board vice chair of the Organik na Negros! Organic Producers and Retailers Association (Onopra). Based on the collective experience of upland farmers and the Indigenous Peoples (IPs) in Negros Occidental and the Philippines, I got elected as Board chair of the Non-Timber Forest Products - Exchange Programme (NTFP-EP) Philippines and a member of its Asian counterpart. I also represented the Philippines in various conferences organized by the Mountain Partnership in Italy, Switzerland, France, Peru, Indonesia and Nepal.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, organic agriculture is an effective strategy for mitigating climate change by building robust soils that are better adapted to extreme weather conditions associated with climate change. The Organic Agriculture Program in Negros Occidental started with the public-private initiative in organic agriculture which established the organic vegetable farm in the rear of Capitol Building in 2005 and the 15 pilot organic villages in the province.

The components of the program included training, information, education and campaign (IEC); production of organic products (agro and aqua); production of organic fertilizer and their promotion; marketing of organic products; research, development and extension; policy and advocacy; and support services and networking.

The organic agriculture program has numerous accomplishments such as:

* Conversion of almost 15,000 hectares of land to organic agriculture

* Established laboratory production centers for biological agents in five of the six targeted villages

* Increased farmers’ average production and income by 25 to 30 percent through provision of inputs and hands-on training on different organic farming technologies

* Continuous assistance, collaboration and coordination with specific organized organic commodity groups of small farmers

* Organized provincial, city, municipal technical committees on organic agriculture in 32 cities and municipalities

* Continuous hands-on trainings of field technicians & farmers on organic farming technologies and capacity building

* Annual celebration of “Negros Island Organic Farmers Festival” to link agri- fairs and fair-trade in the local and national level

* Trained 1,500 farmers and people’s organizations (POs) and individuals on mushroom culture and production

Through the Organic Agriculture Program, the province received numerous awards like the Outstanding Province on Organic Agriculture Program implementation in 2013 and Regional Organic Agriculture Achievers Award in 2014.

During environmental forums, feedback included “We need to reestablish our relationship with nature!,” “Go for ecological agriculture practices!” Moderate warming and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere may help some plants to grow faster. However, more severe warming, floods, and drought may reduce yields. Livestock may be at risk, both directly from heat stress and indirectly from reduced quality of their food supply. Fisheries will be affected by changes in water temperature that make waters more hospitable to invasive species and shift the ranges or lifecycle timing of certain fish species.

Worldwide, agriculture is an important sector of the U.S. economy. The crops, livestock, and seafood produced in the United States contribute more than $300 billion to the economy each year. When food-service and other agriculture-related industries are included, the agricultural and food sectors contribute more than $750 billion to the gross domestic product.

Agriculture and fisheries are highly dependent on the climate. Increases in temperature and carbon dioxide (CO2) can increase some crop yields in some places. But to realize these benefits, nutrient levels, soil moisture, water availability, and other conditions must also be met. Changes in the frequency and severity of droughts and floods could pose challenges for farmers and ranchers and threaten food safety. Meanwhile, warmer water temperatures are likely to cause the habitat ranges of many fish and shellfish species to shift, which could disrupt ecosystems.

Overall, climate change could make it more difficult to grow crops, raise animals, and catch fish in the same ways and same places as we have done in the past. Negrense environmentalists can proudly raise their heads on ensuring safe and healthy foods thru organic agriculture and help mitigate climate change.