SAFE Project addresses climate change impacts in Benguet terrace farms

Benguet province, dubbed as the Salad Bowl of the Philippines, is one of the top vegetable producers in the country. This is due to the advantages of its location and climate.

However, climate change has impacted its agricultural system. The province’s vulnerability to calamities and hazards resulted in low yields and income for the farmers. To address this, there is a need for a resilient agricultural system that can adapt through the challenges of climate change.

The Science and Technology frontline for emergencies and hazards (SAFE) project of the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST-PCAARRD), Benguet State University (BSU), and the Cordillera Consortium for Agriculture, Aquatic and Resources Research and Development (CorCAARRD) introduced science and technology (S&T) interventions to address different threats such as typhoons, landslides, frost, strong winds, occurrence of insect pests and diseases, and to increase production and income of the vegetable farmers in the municipalities of Kibungan and Tublay.

The project was implemented in cooperation with DOST-Cordillera Administrative Region (DOST-CAR), the Provincial Local Government of Benguet, Municipal Governments of Kibungan and Tublay, and their farmers’ associations. It was implemented from October 2017 to June 2020.

Project accomplishments

A techno-demo farm was established to study how S&T interventions can help increase production and quality of three crops – lettuce, broccoli, and cabbage. Structural interventions applied to terrace farming included structural windbreaks, tunnel-type rain shelters, and interlinked-reinforced terraces. In addition, 60 farmers and 6 municipal and barangay officials were equipped with knowledge on crop production management practices and DRR-CCAM. These interventions reduced crop damage and improved soil chemical properties, resulting in increased yields and net income from the three crops.

The project also recognized the role of women in mobilizing resources during and after climate and other-related hazards. To enhance their roles in climate change adaptation and mitigation, women leaders and farmers were involved from planning to the evaluation process of the project. In addition to the trainings on soil management and organic fertilizer production, pest management, and DRR-CCAM, they were also trained on food processing for women entrepreneurship development.

Information, education, and communication (IEC) materials were also developed to promote these S&T interventions and expand the farmers’ understanding on how to build resilient livelihood for long-term adaptation.

A policy brief was also produced to guide the local government units (LGUs) on resolutions to further sustain and improve the techno-demo farm, as well as the adoption of the S&T interventions to the terrace farms in the municipality. Selected technologies were included in the annual investment plan and Local Climate Change Action Plan of the LGUs. The municipality of Tublay already proposed the adoption of the windbreak technology for its farmers.

These accomplishments are detailed in the research paper, “Disaster Risk Reduction of Climate Change Impacts on Vegetable Terrace Farms in Benguet” that was presented during the National Symposium on Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (NSAARRD). It was awarded third place Best R&D Paper- Development Category. The award was conferred during the virtual DOST-PCAARRD S&T Awards and Recognition ceremony held on November 29, 2021.

NSAARRD recognizes outstanding contributions in the agriculture, aquatic, and natural resources sector R&D in the country (Klariz M. Sadie, DOST-PCAARRD S&T Media Services).