By Leslie J. Batallones
“AGRICULTURE IS A contributory factor of climate change, but we can mitigate climate change through agriculture,” said William Ablong, city administrator and agriculturist in the “Youth to Dumaguete” lecture series last Jan. 16 at the Audio Visual Room 1.
Ablong said that the use of chemical fertilizers contributes 30 percent greenhouse gas and 20 percent methane gas which affects the environment. The methane gas comes from animal wastes and garbage.
He also pushed for organic farming to mitigate the negative impacts of agriculture. Organic farming lessens carbon emissions, because organic fertilizers and pesticides have less carbon than factory-produced fertilizers and pesticides.
In Dumaguete, 70 sacks of organic fertilizers are produced daily from biodegradable waste. Organic fertilizers are distributed freely to farmers to subsidize the cost of their production. Farmers are also urged to plant root crops and legumes in the areas vulnerable to climate change. These areas are Balugo, Bajumpandan, Banilad, Batinguel, Cadawinonan, Candau-ay, Cantil-e, Camanjac, Junob, and Talay.
In food supply, however, Ablong stressed that massive urbanization has eaten up the agricultural lands.
“A big track of land in Dumaguete has been allotted for residential, commercial, and institutional because many of our visitors would like to really stay here,” said Ablong.
Dumaguete’s population in terms of birth rate growth is only 1.2 percent, but migration is more than 2 percent.
In the city’s total land area of more than 3,511 hectares, 675 hectares remain agricultural.
He added: “We want to be self-sufficient in our food supply but since our agricultural land has been significantly reduced to only 675 hectares, then our food production is at stake.”
To ensure enough food supply, Ablong said that the city introduced the program called “Plow Now, Pay Later” to have a reserve area of food production in the city and to reserve the rural areas for climate change mitigation.
He added that although agriculture land is diminishing, the city is maximizing the available land for food production.
Ablong then urged the youth voters to elect politicians who are concerned about food supply.
“[Youth voters] have a role to play, and that’s to elect leaders who are innovative, forward looking, and able to address a needed solution to our problem of food supply, environment and economic development,” he said.~