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Climate Change Adaptation-Oriented NAMA Option for the Rice Sector in the Philippines

Published on 9 March 2015 Philippines

Photo shows a good condition of the soil, and a better crop stand under alternate-wetting and drying technique. Photo credit: PhilRicePhoto shows a good condition of the soil, and a better crop stand under alternate-wetting and drying technique. Photo credit: PhilRice

Science, ingenuity, and the intergovernmental process have come together with a plan to lower greenhouse gas emissions, adapt to climate fluctuations, and increase rice production in the Philippines. The proposed strategy would transform current irrigation methods by introducing a system that uses less water, is predictable, and provides greater resilience to climate change.

For many developing countries, taking action to mitigate climate change and adapting to its effects go hand-in-hand. The Philippines is one country that is acutely vulnerable to climate change and has already experienced extreme weather events and prolonged drought. For a country dependent on rice farming for food and livelihood, intervention is critical and must embody both greenhouse gas mitigation and agricultural resilience to climate change.

The action is a Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action (NAMA) option that intertwines policy, economic incentives, and education to ensure lasting and transformative change. This NAMA is the result of collaboration between the Philippine government and The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and is an exceptional model of scalable, replicable action to address climate change in the context of sustainable development.

The need for climate resilient rice farming

Rice is considered the most important agricultural crop in the country and is a staple food but in terms of food security, the Philippines still remains extremely vulnerable. With a population of over 92 million as of 2010, rising at an average rate of more than 2 per cent per year, the amount of rice produced relative to domestic consumption remains insufficient and the gap needs to be filled through imports. Therefore, any future policies in the sector need to aim at increasing and sustaining domestic production, while taking into consideration the possible adverse effects of climate change.

Policy, capacity building and economic incentives

This NAMA option targets all farmers in the Philippines who cultivate rice in irrigated rice fields. It aims to design policy and economic incentives for farmers to switch from continuous flooding to Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD) and sustain that practice over the long run. In order for the NAMA to succeed, it will target the existing structure of the rice irrigation system, while at the same time providing individual farmers with the required capacity-building and knowledge dissemination. Carrying out both sets of interventions simultaneously is a prerequisite for the NAMA option to bring the necessary sectoral transformations.

The NAMA option will target a total of 750,000 ha of irrigated rice fields, approximately half of the irrigated rice fields across the whole country, which are estimated to emit approximately 2,033ktCH4/yr or 50,826 ktCO2e/yr. The introduction of AWD in these flooded irrigated rice fields could potentially bring approximately 12,151 ktCO2e/yr of emission reductions, or approximately 23,217 ktCO2e/yr if implemented across the entire country. This will represent a sizeable mitigation effect, decreasing GHG emissions from rice cultivation by close to 25 per cent. Once the NAMA option is successfully implemented in its current format, it can be further expanded to cover all irrigated rice fields in the Philippines.

Furthermore, the NAMA option addresses all the seven strategic priorities of the Philippines National Climate Change Action Plan (NCCAP), as described below:

Food Security

Implementation of the NAMA option is expected to lead to increased rice production by up to 5 per cent per hectare as well as an increase in the irrigable land area because of increased irrigation water availability and improved irrigation services, especially during the dry season. This will result in an overall increase of rice production and allow the Philippines to meet its national target of attaining 100 per cent rice self-sufficiency.

Water Sufficiency

The implementation of the NAMA option will result in savings in irrigation water and its more efficient use, thus allowing improved water sufficiency in agriculture.

Ecological and Environmental Stability

The proposed NAMA option will create a more resilient and less drought-prone rice production ecosystem

Human Security

Currently a large share of the population of the Philippines is engaged in agriculture, mainly rice production. The proposed NAMA option will improve human security in two directions. First, it will transform the rice sector by making it a more climate resilient one that can sustain extended droughts caused by climate change. Second, the NAMA, through its optional component, will allow farmers to diversify agricultural production and thus possess the knowledge and skill base to overcome any adverse effects on rice production caused by climate change events, while at the same time widening their base for generating income.

Climate-Friendly Industries and Services

This NAMA option transforms rice production into a climate change resilient and climate change smart mode. The reduced use of irrigation water, reduced fuel consumption in pump-irrigation systems, and reduced GHG emissions because of the introduction of AWD reduce the overall carbon footprint of rice production.

Sustainable Energy

The NAMA option will have a particularly strong effect on pumped irrigation systems where the introduction of the NAMA will lead to the reduction of fuel consumption and energy savings.

Knowledge and Capacity Development

The implementation of the NAMA option will promote the countrywide dissemination of AWD practices, as well as knowledge about the cultivation of other agricultural products by farmers. In this way the NAMA will contribute significantly to knowledge and capacity development in the agricultural sector.


Support for Farmers

In order to achieve a wider transformational impact, as well as acceptance among farmers, the NAMA option will offer a support package, consisting of an optional set of training to participating farmers in diversifying agricultural production. Under this optional scheme, all farmers who participate in the application of AWD under the NAMA option will be provided additional support by the Philippine Rice Research Institute for cultivating other crops. This will allow farmers to develop new agricultural skills, access new markets and diversify their revenue sources. Thus, the proposed NAMA option will allow not only sizeable reductions of GHG emissions, but also the transformation of the rice sector by providing more efficient irrigation solutions and increasing productivity.

The NAMA option targets are provided in the table below:

NAMA Targets

Target Values

GHG Emission Reductions

12,151,688 tCO2e/year

Annual Rice Production in the Philippines

20,382,000 tons

Irrigated Land Area

1,925,000 ha

Trained Irrigation Officers


Trained Farmers/IAs (in land area managed)

750,000 ha


Measuring Results

A credible and transparent Measurement, Reporting, and Verification (MRV) framework is essential if the impact of this NAMA option on the nationally appropriate improvements (NAI), greenhouse gas emissions and Sustainable Development benefits is to be assessed effectively. It would provide the country with an accurate and credible information framework that can serve as a basis for understanding the impact of such holistic mitigation actions and for identifying areas needing more targeted effort.

The GHG Emission MRV system for this NAMA option is designed based on an approved Standardized Baseline (SB). The SB developed Philippines-specific seasonal default values. The default emission factors provide the value of emissions per area per season (kgCH4/ha/season), allowing emission reductions to be estimated only from the area of the rice fields on which AWD has been adopted.

The MRV for the SD benefits is based on parameters identified in the NAMA Sustainable Development Tooland for which the baseline is characterized by various indicators related to the environment, social, growth and development, and economic domains. Wherever possible, the parameters are quantified, otherwise qualitative description will be provided.

The NAMA Option has been developed with technical support of Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities.


Source: Nama News | 5 March 2015