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Cultivating climate resilience: a participatory assessment of organic and conventional rice systems in the Philippines

  • Amber Heckelman (a1), Sean Smukler (a1) and Hannah Wittman (a1) (a2)

Climate change poses serious threats to agriculture. As a primary staple crop and major contributor to agriculturally derived greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, rice systems are of particular significance to building climate resilience. We report on a participatory assessment of climate resilience in organic and conventional rice systems located in four neighboring villages in Negros Occidental, Philippines. The Philippines is one of the foremost countries impacted by climate change, with an increasing incidence of climate-related disturbances and extensive coastlines, high population density and heavy dependence on agriculture. Using the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization's Self-evaluation and Holistic Assessment of climate Resilience of farmers and Pastoralists (SHARP) tool, we measured 13 agroecosystem indicators of climate resilience, and assessed the degree to which household, farm, and community mechanisms and outcomes impact adaptation capacity, mitigation potential and vulnerability. We used a participatory approach to situate these indicators in their socio-ecological context, and identify targeted interventions for enhancing climate resilience based on local farmer experiences and socio-ecological conditions. Comparison of climate resilience indicators across organic and conventional rice systems in this region indicated that organic rice systems are more climate resilient than their conventional counterparts. As such, increased policy support for the development of organic rice systems are critically important as an adaptive mechanism to augment food security, mitigate GHG emissions and improve climate resilience in the Philippines.

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Corresponding author
Author for correspondence: Amber Heckelman, E-mail:,
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