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Special Issue 2020, Vol. 103

{Photographs courtesy of Dan Leo Z. Diona II, University of the Philippines Los Baños}


Making Climate Science More Useful for Decision- Making: A Synthesis of Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives from Case Studies with Smallholder Farmers in the Philippines
Peter Hayman, Juan M. Pulhin, Canesio D. Predo and Bronya Cooper

There is a compelling case to make advances in climate science useful for one of the most exposed and vulnerable communities: the Philippine smallholder farmer. The Philippine government’s investment in the modernization of PAGASA is consistent with a substantial international effort in weather and climate science. However, these improvements are only of value if they can be communicated and used in decision making.

From Climate Data to Actionable Climate Knowledge: DOST-PAGASA Experience Proving Climate Services to Smallholder Farmers in Calapan, Mindoro
Thelma Cinco, Wilmer Agustin, Bronya Cooper, Alexis Declaro, Rosalina de Guzman, Edna Juanillo, Rosemarie Marasigan, Analiza Solis and Peter Hayman

Communicating weather and climate information for farm decision-making remains a challenge for hydro-meteorological agencies, including the Philippine agency DOST-PAGASA. Through stakeholder engagements with smallholder farmers in Calapan, Mindoro, three possible root causes were identified: a lack of awareness and accessibility to information, the misinterpretation of probabilistic seasonal forecast and drought categories, and an inadequate realization of local climate change implications. In this paper, measures conducted by the agency to obtain information on addressing these gaps are outlined. Tools and localized climate products were presented to help in capacity-building and communication of climate-related information. As a result, simplified scientific climate knowledge presented through a KlimAgrikultura workshop demonstrated an improvement in end-user understanding, while crop risk matching was shown to be effective in identifying relevant climate products. Moreover, simplified tools to analyze seasonal impacts of ENSO on rainfall helped end-users visualize and examine the relevance of monthly forecasts relative to the baseline historical rainfall distribution for each ENSO phase. Lastly, localized historical and projected climate information provided Calapan rice farmers with foresight on future threats of drought and extreme rainfall. The effectiveness of PAGASA climate services provision will be improved through KlimAgrikultura and other agricultural-related projects and by thorough assessment and reassessment through end-user participation, and subsequent application to other parts of the country.

Mapping Access and Use of Weather and Climate Information to Aid Farm Decisions in the Philippines
Clarissa Ruzol, Laizha Lynn Lomente, Juan Pulhin

A reliable farm decision model is becoming increasingly important, particularly in countries highly vulnerable to adverse climate change impacts. In this paper, social network analysis and ethnographic information were combined to map weather and climate information networks of rice and corn farmers in Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. Snowball sampling generated the network data locating the otherwise hidden population. Most of the respondents source their information from television. The topmost information that is accessible and used by rice farmers is on tropical cyclones, while corn farmers seek information about the wet and the dry seasons. Despite the seemingly autonomous decision-making among farmers, there are nodal farmers in the networks whose reach can potentially influence their peers and improve the delivery of weather and climate information. These identified farmers either occupy a local leadership position or are members of farmers’ organizations. Predominantly they have been farming for at least 25 years. These farmers can serve as ‘bridges’ to other farmers who are isolated or peripheral in the network by connecting them to the core’s primary contacts. Capacitating these potentially influential farmers could further improve the flow of weather and climate information and better serve the farmers beyond the reach of agricultural extension services. Moreover, the farmers’ experience of precarity pressures them to take risks despite unfavorable forecasts and advisories. Climate studies and farm decision modeling should not leave out these narratives on agricultural precarities to understand the complexity of the effects of climate variability in agriculture.

Analyzing Social Networks in Upland Farming Communities for Improving Design of Education and Information Programs: The Case of Atok, Benguet
Aubrey D. Tabuga, Anna Jennifer L. Umlas, and Katrina Mae C. Zuluaga

This study examines the structure of social networks in three upland farm communities in Benguet Province to develop insights about how information and education campaigns can be designed to more effectively reach farmers located in remote and geographically constrained areas. In the Philippines, there is a significant human resource gap in extension workers. It is therefore important to explore mechanisms that can help address this gap. The idea is to use the prevailing social norms in communities to identify, through social network analysis, central actors who can potentially aid in extension work as well as peripheral actors who may be reached through a different approach. We found that upland communities have varied social network densities and that network centrality of actors is associated with having the means to move around and one’s physical proximity to venues for social gathering. We conclude that information and education campaign (IEC) approaches can be improved by accounting for differences and nuances in the social structures in their design and implementation. Targeting central actors in the communities in IECs and providing an incentive mechanism for these to aid in extension work through echoing and social influencing are potentially effective strategies that can be implemented in contexts of inadequate human and financial resources. At the same time, a more direct approach for reaching and benefiting actors who are not well-integrated into the social systems will ensure that these are not left behind.

Determinants of the Use of Weather and Seasonal Climate Information Among Smallholder Maize Farmers in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
Jeffrey Andrew L. Losloso, Canesio D. Predo, Asa Jose U. Sajise, Juan M. Pulhin, Ma. Victoria O. Espaldon

Access and use of scientific weather and seasonal climate information are considered valuable decision-making tools in climate change adaptation. Using survey data from a sample of 200 farming households in Bulalacao, Oriental Mindoro, this study applied a Fractional Response Model to analyze the factors influencing the use of weather and climate information. Usefulness and reliability of forecast information explained most of the variations of its use, suggesting an increased likelihood in forecast use by 14% and 19%, respectively. Farmers’ sex, farm parcel size, and risk attitude are also positively associated with forecast information use, whereas age and reliability of traditional forecasts negatively influenced its use. Effective policies for sustainable agricultural production should consider the need to improve the access and use of weather and seasonal climate information by delivering timely and accurate information that is tailor-fitted to the needs of the farmers. Expansion of information sources and facilitation of access to farm resources should also be prioritized to provide farmers with more opportunities in managing climate risks.

Local Knowledge on Climate Hazards, Weather Forecasts and Adaptation Strategies: The Case of Cool Highlands in Benguet, Philippines
Cheryll C. Launio, Ruth S. Batani, Christita Galagal, and Kacy O. Labon

Local knowledge that includes traditional and indigenous knowledge can inform response strategies and strengthen the resilience of communities. Benguet Province, known for its contribution to highland horticulture production in the country, has been ranked second in the Philippines in terms of climate change vulnerability. This study aimed to understand local knowledge in Benguet on the various climate hazards, on climate and weather forecasting information, and analyze local adaptation strategies. The findings indicate that smallholder farmers in Benguet have a rich local knowledge in terms of the hazards that mainly affect their agricultural production, namely typhoons, prolonged monsoon rains, frosts, hailstorms, erosion and landslides. They also have traditional weather and climate indicators or some form of climate and weather information that span the 12-month calendar. Their local adaptation strategies mostly stem from their hard work and pragmatic attitude. Recommendations include R&D on tolerance to frost by growth stage for major highland crops, and techniques for crop scheduling to achieve optimum yield; more active information dissemination on the 10-day duration and monthly weather forecasts, as well as wind direction advisories; increased R&D for forecasting continuous heavy rains; and comparison of traditional knowledge-based predictions with scientific information for possible integration.

Effects of Extreme Weather Events and Coping Mechanisms of Smallholder Highland Farmers and Traders: The Case of Typhoon Ompong in Benguet, Philippines
Cheryll C. Launio

There is limited published literature on the effects of and coping mechanisms on extreme weather events for vegetable farmers and traders in the mountainous region. This study uses survey and key informant interviews to determine the effects of Typhoon Ompong on farm households, their recovery period, and coping mechanisms. The consequences for smallholder farmers of Typhoon Ompong were damaged standing crops, erosion or run-off on farms and the closure of farm-to-market and national roads connecting farms to wholesale markets. Most farmers recovered their losses within six to eight months, but the mean was 13 months from the typhoon. Most farm households heeded the early warning of the impending storm by securing their farm and house, storing food, and harvesting standing crops or transporting harvested crops to trading areas. After the event, planting again or changing crops and saving and marketing the remaining crop are their only options. Community cooperation was automatic in terms of the cleaning and repair of roads and water sources. The study recommends strengthening forecasts and forecast dissemination of continuous heavy rainfall, provision of accurate and real-time information on road condition, increased local R&D on erosion and road landslide forecasting, ensuring the availability of ready-to-plant seeds and seedlings after extreme weather events, and capitalizing on the traditional “adduyon” for disaster management.

Gender and the Use of Climate Information in Agricultural Decision-Making Amidst Climate Change: The Case of Rice and Corn Production in Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
Ma. Larissa Lelu Gata, Jeffrey Losloso and Pamela Nilo

This paper analyzes the participation of men and women in the use of climate information in agricultural decision-making amidst climate change. Using mixed methods involving focus group discussions (n=55: male=26, female=29) and survey (n=337: male=247, female=90), the results indicate that agricultural activities in rice and corn production in the Philippines remain male-dominated, this despite women’s participation in grain production having become more visible, especially in rice production, but quite limited in corn production. While women’s participation is also seen in decision-making on livelihood activities and use of weather and climate information in making operational, tactical and strategic farm decisions, such decisions are still male dominated. In female-headed households, female farmers take the lead in decision-making processes in the household related to unpaid activities and income-generating activities. Both female and male farmers share their knowledge and strategies towards climate change adaptation, although there are areas in which women tend to have lesser decision-making participation and responsibilities. However, as women acquire more knowledge about climate change, they tend to share more responsibilities and are more involved in the farm management such as scheduling of farm activities, expenses and investments.

Economics of Cabbage Production and Critical On-Farm Decisions in Atok, Benguet, Philippines
Sonny N. Domingo, Anna Jennifer L. Umlas, Katrina Mae C. Zuluaga

Agricultural productivity relies heavily on favorable weather and seasonal climate states, particularly for farms within rainfed agroecological zones. This paper discusses the economics of cabbage production amid weather risks and seasonal climate variability in Atok, Benguet province. Critical weather and climate–related farming production decisions were assessed using crop climate calendars (CCC), verbal decision analysis (VDA) and rapid climate decision analysis (RCDA). The CCC improved on the traditional crop calendar by plotting cultural practices and production risks throughout a cropping season; while the VDA and RCDA structured decision–making by looking at possible outcomes given different seasonal climate states. Farm budgets subject to production and market–related uncertainties in both wet and dry cropping seasons were developed for cabbage and alternative high–value crops. These tools provide pertinent documentation and encourage discourse to aid farmers and agricultural extension workers incorporate weather and climate information in leveraging farming earning opportunities.

Application of Rapid Climate Decision Analysis Support Tool in Assessing Climate-Sensitive Farming Decisions in Calapan and Gloria, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
Dan Leo Z. Diona II, Jeffrey Andrew D. Losloso, Canesio D. Predo, Juan M. Pulhin, Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Asa Jose U. Sajise, Catherine C. De Luna, Kevin A. Parton, Peter T. Hayman

This study aims to assess the influence of weather and climate information on farm decision-making of rice and corn farmers in Oriental Mindoro, Philippines. The rapid climate decision analysis support tool was applied in a stepwise approach for rice and corn weather and climate sensitive risks. These risks were identified through the establishment of a crop climate calendar and subsequently subjected to a verbal decision analysis, which compares outcomes of a binary risk-mitigating decision under a set of possible weather and climate scenarios. In this study, RCDA focused on the choice of rice variety as a response to pest and disease risk occurrence. The value of forecast information is measured by looking at the trade-offs and changes in gross margins across a five-point distribution of climate states (wettest, above normal, normal, below normal, and driest) using 100 percentile points. The results show that it is more efficient to use rice varieties that are resistant to pests and diseases when the probability of rainfall occurrence is high. The forecast is deemed useful and valuable during dry conditions as it suggests that the highly susceptible variety is better 87% of the time and it may lead to a higher average profit of USD 21.43/ha. In the case of corn farming, the VDA result is sufficient to come up with optimal crop choice. By laying out and assessing farmer decision actions in dealing with weather and climate risks, cost-effective options at different weather and climate scenarios are realized, and the importance of forecast information in delivering solutions is highlighted.

The Economic Value of Weather Forecasts on Selected Rice and Corn Farming Decisions in Calapan and Gloria, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
Dan Leo Z. Diona II, Mia Barbara D. Aranas, Asa Jose U. Sajise, Canesio D. Predo, Juan M. Pulhin, Catherine C. De Luna, Maricel A. Tapia-Villamayor, Ma. Larissa Lelu P. Gata

Valuing weather forecasts for major agricultural crops is vital to improve farmers’ decision-making and to assess its usefulness in agricultural production. To understand the role of forecasts in agricultural decision making, this study examines the value of forecasts to a smallholder farmer. Specifically, this study seeks to (1) analyze the farming system in the study area, (2) determine climate-sensitive farming decisions, and (3) derive the value of weather information on rice and corn farming. Using cases of rice and corn farming in selected areas in Oriental Mindoro, the study used decision tree analysis and first-degree stochastic dominance analysis in valuing weather forecasts and assessing cost-efficiency between decisions with and without a forecast. The results of the decision tree analysis for both rice farming and corn farming show a similar trend wherein using forecasts tends to minimize cost. The result of the study revealed a forecast value between USD 0.50-1.64 per hectare. Cost efficiency analysis showed that using weather forecasts in making farm decisions appears to be the cost-efficient strategy. Applying the analysis to day-to-day weather and climate related farm risk could show that using forecast would result in significant cost savings, and eventually, higher gross margins for the farmers. These findings point to the significance of weather information in capitalizing on anticipated favorable conditions and minimizing the negative effects of adverse weather events. The study findings provide the foundation for trialability and scalability of such analyses within the Philippine agricultural context.

Use of a Crop Model for Management Decision in Rice Production: The Case of Calapan, Oriental Mindoro, Philippines
Jan Idel Emmanuel F. Castañeda, Patricia Ann J. Sanchez, Canesio D. Predo, Juan M. Pulhin

This study aims to identify risk-efficient management practices in Calapan, Oriental Mindoro and fill information gaps for farm decision-making. The Decision Support System for Agro-technology Transfer (DSSAT) was used to simulate scenarios of varying planting dates and fertilizer rates by using available data for the model calibration. Climate variability was incorporated by grouping the yield distribution to El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) years. Stochastic Dominance Analysis with Respect to a Function (SDRF) identified recommended planting schedules for risk averse individuals. These were May and September for El Niño; early May, late July and January for La Niña; and June, early October, and mid-December for Neutral years. The wet season has a stable yield and consistent response to fertilizer. September and October planting dates have a low yield even with high fertilizer levels compared to December and January. Planting early during the dry season requires fewer inputs, but the outcomes are low yielding. Plantings late in January have a high potential yield due to high solar radiation during the latter stages but they require more fertilizer and irrigation inputs.

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