BY PATRICIA BIANCA S. TACULAO

Apart from the global pandemic, other pressing issues that continue to concern people from all over the world are climate change and food security. While experts are looking for ways to solve these problems, some possible solutions can come from farming. 

Ramon Peñalosa, the proprietor of Peñalosa Farms, shares that one viable approach that can benefit the environment and promote food security is through regenerative agriculture which promotes sustainable land use through the principles of reusing, reducing, recycling, refusing, and rejuvenating.

Through regenerative agriculture, the conventional farming paradigm shifts to revolve around a holistic and diverse method that protects the soil and partners with nature. 

He added that three farming approaches follow the principles of regenerative agriculture, these are organic farming, diversified farming, and integrated farming. 

Organic farming is a popular farming approach today as it promotes the growth of trees, fish,  crops, and livestock without the use of chemicals. This production system relies on ecological processes, biodiversity, and acclimatized cycles. It also combines traditional and modern farming ideas for the benefit of everyone involved. 

Diversified farming, on the other hand, uses practices and landscapes that intentionally consider functional biodiversity to maintain ecosystem services that provide significant inputs to agriculture such as soil fertility, pest and disease control, pollination, and the efficiency of water use. 

Another farming system that’s been gaining popularity nowadays is integrated farming. This approach creates a synergy between various elements such as crops, livestock, and more to create a zero-waste, self-contained ecosystem, that provides a continuous stream of income. It also employs other systems such as farm to market, farm to table, and other similar ways. 

Benefits of regenerative agriculture systems

When farms practice integrated or organic farming, Peñalosa said that they use 30 to 80 percent less energy while sequestering more carbon than conventional farms, thus mitigating the climate crisis. 

And farmers need not worry about their space since the two farming systems can be done in almost any setting. This adaptability to the environment can also help households find a sustainable source of food and solve the rising problem of hunger. 

Small organic farms can also provide their communities with sustainably grown products to ensure self-sufficiency and food security. Consumers will also reap the benefits of eating fresh local produce that’s rich in vitamins and minerals. 

Three pillars to climate-smart agriculture

Peñalosa explained that there are three pillars to make agriculture climate-smart. These are productivity, adaptation, and mitigation. 

First, farmers must secure their farm’s productivity as they play a crucial role in putting food on everyone’s tables. But as they continually increase their output and income, they must do it in a sustainable matter by not leaving a negative impact on the environment. 

Next, the proprietor of Peñalosa Farms emphasized that farmers should be able to adapt to challenges while reducing the farmers’ exposure to short-term risks. And while the farmers strengthen their resilience and build their capacity to adapt, their attention should not waver from protecting ecosystem services. 

Lastly, farmers should learn how to mitigate the harmful effects of agriculture that have been the subject of controversy for many years now. To do this, Peñalosa suggests maximizing the ability of the soil and trees to absorb carbon from the environment to slow the effects of climate change. 

By establishing small farms that practice regenerative agriculture, Filipinos can create a viable solution to the issue of food security while mitigating the adverse effects of climate change. 

This topic was discussed in Bahay Kubo Kitchens, a series of webinars hosted by Mesa Ni Misis.