Impact assessments help farmers in Asia and Latin America adapt to changing climates

FAO provides evidence on climate change impacts for shaping agricultural policies 

Key Facts

Climate change is affecting the livelihoods and food security of rural people around the world. However, when it comes to making policies to address climate change impacts, national decision-makers do not often have access to local evidence on the effects of climate change. Likewise, when projects implement climate change adaptation activities, they often lack information on the country-specific vulnerabilities. To fill these information gaps, FAO began the Analysis and Mapping of Impacts under Climate Change for Adaptation and Food Security (AMICAF) project, funded by Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The first phase of AMICAF was launched in the Philippines and Peru. It is now also being implemented in Indonesia and Paraguay. 

In the first days of the Farmer Field School (FFS) in the Bicol region of the Philippines, local farmers learned about Green Super rice, a climate-tolerant rice variety that can withstand floods, drought and increased water salinity.

This is one of the climate change adaptation activities that FAO, together with Japan, have implemented in the Philippines as part of the Analysis and Mapping of Impacts under Climate Change for Adaptation and Food Security (AMICAF) project. 

The goal of this project is to provide national policy makers with evidence of climate change impacts so that they can undertake more strategic planning and investment decisions. This project is also implementing climate-smart FFSs as part of its activities in the Asian countries. In the FFSs in the Philippines, 500 farmers learned about climate-tolerant rice varieties and about new crop management techniques that balance the use of technology with environmental sustainability.

"The climate-smart FFSs have allowed farmers to better understand crop-weather interactions and make informed decisions including the adoption of stress-tolerant varieties and other farming practices that reduce the risks associated with extreme events and other climate-related hazards,” explains Lorenzo Alvina, the Philippines Department of Agriculture’s Local FFS Coordinator.

The AMICAF project, piloted in the Philippines and Peru, aims to fill the information gap between the impacts of climate change on the ground and the decisions of policy makers in government ministries. Often times, countries do not have specific, local evidence readily available when making the policies that affect livelihoods and food security. AMICAF, through the modelling system called MOSAICC, helps countries gather the information they need to understand the specific impacts of climate change on local agriculture and helps to build the capacity of the countries to carry out these analyses beyond the life of the project.

“This project assesses nation-wide projected impacts of climate change on agriculture using modelling tools,” says Hiroki Sasaki, AMICAF Project Coordinator. "The results of these top-down assessments are analysed in conjunction with those from a bottom-up socio-economic approach at household level,” he added.

In Peru, for example, the MOSAICC modelling predicted that, in general, climate change will reduce the yield of potato, peas, barley, starchy corn, wheat and beans in the Andean region by 2050. Ayacucho would be one of the most affected departments as the models project a significant decrease in the yields of the main crops necessary for food security. The econometric models also revealed that households’ vulnerability to food insecurity is determined by structural factors. “The results confirm the need to strengthen social programmes and territorial rural development to address climate change,” says Julio Postigo, AMICAF Peru National Manager.

In the Philippines, the modelling analyses predicted that there will be a general increase in seasonal rainfall. Knowing this type of information ahead of time, farmers can adjust their planting schedules and farming methods to protect yields from changing weather patterns. In natural disaster-prone countries like the Philippines, AMICAF’s models demonstrate that the frequency and intensity of extreme weather events will only increase, so it is paramount that farmers learn techniques for mitigating these crises.

“Climate change is a reality and farmers are already feeling its effect on their farmland,” states Hideki Kanamaru, Lead Technical Officer of AMICAF. “Agricultural systems will need to be transformed towards climate-smart agriculture. This AMICAF approach is a key component of FAO’s strategic response to one of the biggest challenges of our time,” concluded Kanamaru.

Through new techniques learned in FFSs or the use of different crop varieties, FAO is helping to increase the resilience of livelihoods against disasters and climatic changes.

Sharing lessons learned
The second phase of the project began in 2015 in Indonesia and Paraguay and will follow the South-South Cooperation (SSC) approach: Peru will share its lessons learned with Paraguay and the Philippines will share its lessons with Indonesia.

FAO is building Paraguay’s technical capacity to map the local impacts of climate change. Participants from different institutions, such as the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock, the Direction of Meteorology and Hydrology, the Environmental Secretariat, the Technical Planning Secretary and research institutes, joined the trainings on climate downscaling, hydrology, and information technology.

In Indonesia, FAO is supporting the Climate FFSs run by the Indonesian Agency for Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics (BMKG) by providing climate projection results and related analyses. These Field Schools introduce farmers to climate information through experimental techniques, simple explanations and active discussions on topics such as cloud and rain formation processes and indigenous knowledge on farming and crop calendars. With this information, farmers can learn to adapt to the variations brought on by climate change.

Pudji Setyani, BMKG officer explains, “We expect that FFSs will equip farmers with knowledge of future planting patterns, so that they can adjust their planting periods based on the possible changes derived from the information on climate change.” She adds that these field schools in addition to agricultural extension services can help “guide the farmers in adapting to climate change and in maintaining optimal production even though the climates are changing.”

Decision makers, on the other hand, will have the information they need, such as nationwide future projections on crop yields and the availability of water for irrigation, to implement evidence-based adaptation policies that will support the livelihoods and food security of their people.

Through further impact assessments and South-South Cooperation initiatives, FAO and the Government of Japan hope to build capacities in more countries to implement these types of modelling systems.

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