Farmers Must Adapt to Climate Change

Farmers Must Adapt to Climate Change

in News

Rain should be a blessing to farmers. But not for I Wayan Asih, a small farmer in Bali, Indonesia. Excessive rainfall has damaged around 1,000 m2 of his chilli pepper crop.

"Usually the rain's stopped by July. But it's still falling and it's ruined my chillies," he said. Last week, Asih showed us the damage to his two-week old chilli plants. They were covered in white spots. Asih admits he doesn't know the name of the disease, but he says that it makes the chillies grow more slowly.

“When they're harvested, the chilli seeds are smaller, too," he said.

I Kadek Suparta, another farmer in Rendang village had a similar story to tell. Suparta says that the damage to his chillies was the result of the current climate change. Although they will not make a loss, their income from the chillies is bound to be lower because of the poor quality harvest.

What Asih and Suparta experienced had been predicted by the Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (Badan Meteorologi, Klimatologi dan Geofisika – BMKG) and JICA. Adi Ripaldi from BMKG Mataram, who has studied the impacts of climate change on agriculture, says that Karangasem is in the region most vulnerable to climate change.

Adi explained this at a Knowledge Café discussion held by VECO Indonesia in Rendang village. Guests at this learning session for VECO Indonesia staff were Adi Ripaldi and former VECO Indonesia Program Manager Imam Suharto, who has been involved in similar research.

Quoting BMKG and JICA data, Adi, who holds an advanced degree in atmospheric science from the Bandung Institute of Technology, explained that the areas of Bali most vulnerable to climate change are the whole of Karangasem district, and parts of Tabanana and Bangli districts.

Karangasem District is the most vulnerable because of its high exposure index and low adaptive capacity," said Adi.

In simple terms, exposure index is a measure of how vulnerable the local weather is to climate change . The higher the index, the greater the vulnerability. Adaptive capacity is the ability to adapt to climate change.

For farmers to be able to adapt to climate change, explained Adi, field schools on climate change and agriculture are needed. Field schools like this have been held in several locations, including Indramayu in West Java, and in West Lombok, West Nusa Tenggara.

The aim of these climate change field schools is that farmers have a better understanding of the local climate, ecosystem, and farming methods, to make commodities more resistant to climate change. "If farmers don't learn to adapt to climate change, our food sources will be under threat," said Adi.