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Guinayangan: A Pilot Climate Smart Village in Central Philippines

The challenges imposed by climate change are the focus of particular attention in the municipality of Guinayangan (Quezon province), a Climate Smart Village (CSV) supported by the International Institute of Rural Reconstruction or IIRR ( in partnership with the local government unit. This pilot village, and especially its farmers, must adapt to prolonged higher temperatures during dry seasons, and excessive rainfall in the rainy seasons. This unsual phenomenon which is now becoming more frequent lower yields of their crops. The Climate Smart Village aims to find multiple solutions and support breeders, market gardeners and farmers in their necessary transformation process.

Guinayangan, a municipality with a varied landscape oriented towards agriculture

Municipality of Guinayangan, Quezon - COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN 2017-2022

The municipality of Guinayangan, which covers 22,798.60 hectares, is a melting pot of natural environments: along the East coast of the Gulf of Ragay, and surrounded by hills reaching 322 metres, the slopes are mainly between 8 and 18% inclined. We are here in hilly terrain and farmers will have to dealt with it. Limestone soil is an additional constraint due to irrigation that is difficult to apply in the dry season (November to April) and water stagnation in the wet season (May to October). [1]

Of the 53,278 inhabitants recorded in 2016, 6,000 were farmers. These 6,000 farmers are on the whole highly dependent on two crops: coconut and rice.

Indeed, for the past 50 years, the main production in the municipality has been the production of copra sold to traders whose eventually become coconut oil intended for export. Nearly 15,000 hectares (65% of the total area) are devoted to this production, making Guinayangan one of the largest copra producers in Quezon province. This hegemony, in a almost mono coconut cultivation, is a weakness of the agricultural environment of Guinayangan. In addition, land grazing has been at the expense of wetlands and old-growth forests, which are rich in biodiversity and ecosystem services.

In addition, rice production, this time for direct consumption, was subject to the promulgation in March 2019 of a new law on rice pricing. [2] This law replaces import quotas with import taxes, which ultimately reduces the competitiveness of Filipino producers. Indeed, production costs are much higher in the Philippines than in the other member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). [3]

These two main productions show a real weakness on the municipality's agricultural land.

Municipality of Guinayangan, Quezon - COMPREHENSIVE DEVELOPMENT PLAN 2017-2022

Food and economic sufficiency threatened by climate change

These agricultural lands, in the middle of a humid tropical environment, are also subject to the new influence of climate change, which modifies and thus worsens the climatic conditions for agriculture in the municipality. The increase in temperature since the early 2000s, the decrease in the frequency and volume of rainfall, even in the middle of a rainy season, as well as its unpredictability, and finally, the aggravation of these phenomena by El Nino's own aggravation increase the risks to land productivity and thus to the food and economic sufficiency of the populations. For example, where it was possible to harvest two rice crops before the 2000s, it is only possible for the farmers we met to harvest one nowadays, and for almost two years now, some crops failed in some areas due to lack of water.

Thus the project deployed in Guinayangan tries to meet these expectations by proposing resilient alternatives to climate change.

Climate Smart-Village of Guinayangan includes the population to meet their needs

The Climate Smart Village of Guinayangan began in 2010 thanks to the primary will of the IIRR. The choice of Guinayangan was not hazardous but was well justified according to precise criteria: diversity of agrosystems, crops and environments, average economic ranking (on the scale of Guinayangan municipalities ranks in the 3rd category out of 5, i.e. "financially limited") but also vulnerability with regard to typhoons. Indeed, the latter are recurrent in the region, due to the mountain ranges that direct these hurricanes towards the municipality.

The last component, which is essential in the choice made by the IIRR, is cooperation between the different strata of public authorities: i. e. municipal and regional authorities. It must be said that Quezon's local government is considered progressive and that working in cooperation with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is not a concern.

Interview at the Department of Agriculture of Guinayangan Municipality

These good agricultural practices are now exchanged at monthly farmers' meetings. In addition, some are carrying out various field experiments on rice, for example. Finally, all this data is available on the Internet thanks to the FITS (Farmers Information and Technology Services) Center, which collects the exchanged knowledge. As a result, the farmer seeking an answer may not have to wait for external help and can easily find it on these hub of information.

In addition to human resources, the IIRR made agricultural equipment available, particularly to the first farmers who volunteered for the project. These first farmers could thus serve as a model for their neighbours, and by this method extend the sphere of influence of the Climate Smart Village. The national government took part in the mechanization of the farms while providing the knowledge to use these machines through an operator.

Finally, a demonstration farm and an Eco-park have been created to teach farmers how to use field techniques during open houses. These are demonstration sites for livestock and agroforestry.

Focus on 2 farmers met

We met 2 different farmers throughout the municipality of Guinayangan, one was a breeder of native pigs, the other a producer of coconut, vegetables and rice.

The pig farmer

What we met is a key witness to the changes that the livestock landscape in the municipality of Guinayangan has undergone since there is a long agricutural tradition in his family. The introduction of the white domestic pig in 1990 in the Philippines was a turning point for pig farming. The native black species was replaced by the more productive white species (where the native breed reaches its final mass in 8 months, the domestic pig only needs 4).

Meeting with pig farmers

However, this white domestic species was unable to adapt to rising temperatures and declining water availability. In addition, these pigs require the use of medicinal inputs because they are not adapted to the diseases of the environment and are more fragile in constitution, but also the introduction of rich food that is not locally available on the farm.

The contribution in 2014 of the first native pigs on the farm by the IIRR as well as funds for the construction of livestock buildings as a common service facility for the community allowed the farmers to return to this more adapted and less expensive rustic breed. Indeed, the black pig does not require any inputs because all the food comes directly from the farm with an energy mix provided by the leaves of Trichantera (rich in protein), rice bran, copra and taro. Five years after the reintroduction of the species, the farmer has 3 females and 1 male, giving birth to 19 piglets per year. This livestock is entirely fed with locally grown feed stuffs from the 1.5 hectares of land dedicated to them.

This breed is therefore clearly preferred because farmers have "a lot of time but not much money", so they can take care of this rustic breed that requires more maintenance, but would not be able to afford to buy inputs. Moreover, the meat of the black pig is easily sold since it is preferred to be roasted thanks to its thin fat and taste. The selling price is essentially the same as for the domestic white pig, i.e. 230 pesos per kg of meat. The taste is selected through sensory tests in order to improve the organoleptic capacities. Further experiments on pig rations are carried out by farmers themselves and monthly meetings are organised to exchange good practices and share challenges.

Finally, genetic diversity is ensured through an exchange of pigs between farmers supervised by the National Program for Pig Genetics.

To date, the municipality has 196 rustic pig farmers. On the barangay visited, 50% of the breeders had preferred to return to the breeding of these pigs, sometimes within the mixed breeding of rustic pig/domestic pig. This success tends to extend to all barangays.

The farmer in mixed farming

In the Barangay of San Pedro, the farmer we met owns a 2.5 ha plot with her husband. Established since 2008 since the takeover of the wife's family farm, the ancestral crops on the farm were rice, coconut and maize.

However, droughts make rice work increasingly difficult and it is with the help and support of the IIRR since 2010 that the couple has switched to a polyculture system including agroforestry. Indeed, the water source near the farm is drying up year after year, a sign of desertification of the environment. Changing farming practices requires more work, as it increases the number of operations, but it does allow for a diversification of income that is beneficial. At the time we visited her farm, the couple continues to grow rice but its share has decreased significantly. The new crops introduced are lemons, mung beans, Jack fruits, tomatoes, ampalaya, peanut, corn, okra, coffee, cacao, guyabano, mango, rambutan, sitao, banana, eggplant. The family also raises native pigs and native chicken.

Agroforestry makes it possible to efficiently use the unused space on the farm. Thus it is between the coconut palms that the new plants are planted.

In addition to these new crops, the farming couple received support from the municipality for the installation of native goats on the farm. In the representative period, the herd amounts to 15 heads and a dozen pigs. The effluents from these animals are used as fertilizer for new vegetable and fruit crops. They are supplemented by inputs on loan from the local government.

The farmer met in front of her field in mix farming

As we have seen, this solution is economically sustainable and resilient because the harvests are multiplied. Income is no longer solely dependent on coconut, which previously was their main source of income. In addition, the local government supports the operation and the other farms (300 farmers are part of the project in the entire municipality of Guinayangan) of the project through sales assistance but also through assistance in increasing the selling price. In addition, on the farm, the family is self-sufficient in vegetables and meat, so this reduces costs. Finally, the drastic reduction in the weight of commercial fertilizers used, from 200 kg per year to 30 kg per year, thanks in part to a new microdosing system, less demand for fertilizers and the presence of livestock, a natural fertilizer producer.

A project that sees far

The IIRR plans to remain present in this project while leaving an increasingly important part since the beginning of the Climate Smart Village to the actions and teams of the municipality as well as to the initiatives of farmers. Thus the IIRR will always bring its knowledge and expertise but relies on the farmers themselves to communicate their learned knowledge to other farmers in Guinayangan who wish to change their practices to adopt more climate-resilient ones.

A replicable project but under conditions

The CSV in Guinayangan is an example of an integrated vision of all population strata to adapt to climate change. National government, local government, NGOs, and farmers work hand in hand. This cooperation results in a complete project that integrates as many farmers as possible who wish it thanks to both material and intellectual start-up aid.

In the face of climate change, the methods taught and adopted tend to make farms more resilient, both environmentally and economically. Thus we can see a multiplication of activities within the same farm, ensuring a diversity of income and a less strong dependence on one of these activities (copra production in this case), but also the return to native breeds, naturally adapted to the Philippine climate and therefore more likely to resist than generic species.

We were impressed by the quality of the work and resources implemented by the IIRR and public authorities in Guinayangan municipality. It is difficult not to salute and congratulate the seriousness and soundness of the practices put in place to adapt to climate change and the work done since 2010. We sincerely believe that this Climate Smart Village can be a model, an example that can be replicated elsewhere. Of course, this village has its own specificities and it will be necessary to work on the appropriation of good practices to be placed in new contexts as different as they are specific.