Monday, August 27, 2012

Philippines floods prompt climate action

Kara Santos in IPS: This year’s floods, one of the worst in Philippine history, destroyed a staggering 57 million dollars worth of crops, pushing  this climate vulnerable country to implement disaster risk reduction measures.

“We used to schedule our harvest season around the wet and dry months. But now you can never tell,” says Teresita Duque, a rice farmer in the Nueva Ecija province of the Central Luzon region, the ‘rice granary’ of the Philippines.

...Monsoon rains enhanced by Typhoon Haikui near China had already been drenching Luzon, the Philippines’ main island, for several days when, from Aug. 6-7, nearly two months worth of rain fell on Metro Manila and several provinces in Luzon. At least 95 people perished in the ensuing floods and landslides, with nearly a million others forced to evacuate their homes.

As the Philippines tries to emerge from years of agricultural backwardness and attain food self-sufficiency, farmers, non-government organisations (NGOs) and government agencies are trying to map out strategies that can mitigate the effects of weather patterns gone wild.

Scientists at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), a non-profit agricultural research centre based in Los Banos, Laguna, believe that a flood resistant variety of rice, dubbed ‘submarino’ for its ability to withstand two weeks of submergence, could be one answer.

Last year, when typhoons Nessat and Nalgae devastated Central Luzon, farmers who had planted ‘submarino’ were able to harvest their crops even after their paddies had been submerged for nearly a week....

Researchers checking deepwater rice in the Philippines, shot by International Rice Research Institute, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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