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ILO helps Mindanao farmers affected by El Nino phenomenon

By Mediatrix P. Cristobal

MANILA, Feb 24 — The International Labor Organization (ILO) has launched a program providing for facilitation of innovative financing schemes that would help Mindanao farmers cope with the effects of the El Nino phenomenon.

Developed under the United Nations Climate Change Adaptation [CCA] Project, ILO has selected four pilot sites in Mindanao, which have been identified earlier as vulnerable to climate changes aggravated by El Nino.

ILO Project Manager Lurraine Baybay-Villacorta said four local government units (LGUs in Agusan del Norte – Jabonga, R.T. Romualdez, Buenavista and Las Nieves – which are largely dependent on agriculture but confronted with the effects of climate change from drying farms to rising floods, will be assisted.

A Memorandum of Understanding (<MOU) was signed Wednesday between the ILO, the LGUs and the implementing partners – the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), and the Province of Agusan del Norte.

The ILO said that everyday, farmers are facing the effects of El Niño or long dry spell.

Largely a country dependent on agriculture, about one-half of the Filipino labor force is engaged in agriculture.

The ILO has highlighted the need for innovative ways to avoid further damage on crops and incomes of farmers.

The selection was made by the Project Advisory Committee (PAC) based on results of the baseline study and approved criteria.

The four LGUs contribute significantly to the overall provincial agricultural production. At the same time, they possess unique environmental and locational characteristics, including exposure to extreme events and access to pertinent productive and financial resources needed by the farming populations.

These LGUs have been selected based on several criteria, including agricultural production (area; number of households involved; production level); general environmental condition and climatic risk exposure; availability and access to support institutions; availability and access to financing institutions; availability and access to insurance schemes and other risk transfer mechanisms.

The ILO also signed another MOU with DTI-Caraga to establish cooperation on key project activities, particularly related to the design of options for economic diversification and development of the innovative financing schemes, including the conduct of the comprehensive value chain analysis and market research.

Villacorta explained that with the final selection, the project can now focus its efforts in studying more closely the farming communities and assessing the vulnerabilities and possible impact of climate change in selected areas.

From such studies, climate change adaptation options supporting economic diversification as well as innovative financing schemes and an insurance fund can be developed and tested by the end of 2010.

The ILO official said that the agency hopes the approaches and schemes to be tested in these areas can be replicated not only in the entire province or region but nationwide.

Agusan del Norte is one of the five demonstration sites in the country for the climate change project under the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Fund supported by the Spanish government. (PNA) scs/MPC

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