Cutting Edge Decision Support Tools Aid Climate Resilience Planning and Response


MANILA – Over the last ten years, natural disasters such as typhoons, flooding and drought have cost the agriculture sector in the Philippines more than USD4 billion in damage and production losses. Amidst growing risks from weather extremes and climate change, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are supporting the country’s decision-makers, planners and food producers by increasing their access to advanced weather and climate information products.

“The right information at the right time is the agriculture sector’s best defense against disasters and climate change. Our work with PAGASA is therefore very crucial to the success of our larger strategy for disaster risk reduction and management and climate change adaptation for agriculture,” said José Luis Fernández, FAO Representative in the Philippines.

“The decision support information and tools produced through our joint efforts form the basis of plans, policies, operations and actions that will significantly influence the future of the country’s food and nutrition security, its battle against poverty and climate change, among others,” he added.

Weather and climate information products and services

FAO has been working with PAGASA since 2011 to develop forecasts, projections, farm-level advisories, early warning systems and tools that support climate-smart agriculture practices. One of the major milestones of the partnership is the recent launch of climate change projections based on the latest climate models, which are being provided to different planning institutions of the government and the private sector, among others. These include rainfall and temperature projections from 2020-2079.

Short-range and long-range climate forecasts that were developed for the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) regional field offices and local government units also serve as a vital resource for farmers and fisherfolk. PAGASA also generated nine-day climate forecasts to support farmer operations in over 100 municipalities nationwide.

These efforts were funded by the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department and the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan.

“PAGASA, through this development partnership with FAO Philippines, has shown that weather and climate information and products can be mainstreamed and localized with the support of local government units, national and regional government agencies and academic institutions. Benefits from the use of weather and climate information are being proven by multi-disciplinary science,” said PAGASA Administrator Vicente Malano.

He added that “FAO has also been appreciative of PAGASA for the issuance of quick and timely early warnings, especially for populations such as upland farmers and indigenous people who live in vulnerable ecosystems highly susceptible to heavy rains and flooding.”

Support to aquaculture producers

With funding and technical support from FAO, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) of DA has been collaborating with PAGASA to enhance the resilience of the aquaculture sector. Several climate information products and manuals on the impact management of weathers systems have been developed to support the production of at least 11 aquaculture commodities. This covers, among others, cage and pond cultured tilapia, milkfish, grouper, seaweed, shellfish, shrimp and crab.

“How [aquaculture] farmers make sense of climate information are in the manuals, as well as adaptation measures for farmers during inclement weather conditions and long-term conditions like drought or La Niña. This bridges climate and weather information with aquaculture and fisheries,” explained Roy Ortega, Officer-in-Charge of BFAR’s Aquaculture Division.

PAGASA confers Wind Vane Award to FAO

PAGASA conferred the Wind Vane Award to FAO on 23 March 2017, in recognition of its contribution to the achievement of the institution’s mandates. The awarding ceremony was one of the highlights of PAGASA’s 152nd anniversary and National World Meteorological Day Celebration.

Future work

Strengthening capacities on sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasting, and developing forecast products on sea wave height and solar radiation are in the works for FAO and PAGASA. These are being accomplished through a four-year global programme called “Integrating Agriculture in National Adaptation Plans (NAP-Ag). The programme is implemented in partnership with DA and is funded by Germany’s Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety through its International Climate Initiative.

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