Climate smart farmers' field school: the BICOL, Philippines experience: a success story.
Extreme hydro-climatic conditions, such as droughts, flood and typhoons can adversely affect or even completely interrupt agriculture systems and other agri-water related services. Drought can result in irrigation water scarcity that may lead to poor yield, while direct losses are experienced by farmers during typhoon and flood season. Climate change is expected to increase incidence of these natural hazards putting food security at risk. With heavy reliance on indigenous knowledge by farmers, they are usually unable to cope with the impacts of extreme events, necessitating science-based interventions to deliberately introduce climate change adaptation practices to the farmers. This was the basis of the USAID funded Bicol Agri-Water Project on Climate-Smart Farmers' Field School (CFS) that aimed at disseminating science-based climate information to farmers. The CFS ran for two years covering two wet and two dry seasons in three project sites in Bicol, Philippines. A Total of 616 farmers graduated out of 629 participants from 14 barangays (villages); 271 of whom are males and 345 females. Weekly learning by hands-on sessions were conducted to introduce climate change adaptation strategies. The sessions covered wide ranging topics such as the use of multi-trait rice varieties suitable to drought, flood and saline-prone areas, the sloping agricultural land technology for the upland areas of Polangui, integrated farming system, organic fertilizer production and vermi-composting (as source of organic fertilizer), water management technology (alternate wetting and drying) as an irrigation strategy, and the installation of small scale irrigation systems to enable farmers to farm even with the occurrence of drought of dry spell. Results showed that the CFS increased the knowledge of farmers on CC, CCA and on the technologies introduced; yield increased; and income also increased with an ROI of 49% in the wet season and 55% for the dry season. There were also changes in gender roles with women participating more in decision making activities related to farming that would require family investments. The sustainability mechanisms include the passage of local ordinances to institutionalize the CFS, organizing farmers and training them on sustainable livelihood options.