At the beginning of June, I transferred here to The Episcopal Diocese of Santiago to work on a low-greenhouse gas emission rice farming project. Santiago City, located in the Cagayan Valley, is nestled between the Cordillera Mountains (where I was living) to the West, and the Sierra Madre Mountains to the East.
A snapshot from the early morning drive from Manila to Santiago:
Although this is a lowland region, many of the E-CARE partner communities are Igorot (from the mountains) who transferred here for greener pastures in the 1970s. The livelihood of most of the E-CARE partner communities here is rice farming. In fact, this region is known second-largest rice-producing area in the Philippines!
The traditional rice cultivation method is to keep the fields continuously flooded throughout the growing period. This creates methane emissions, since the rice straw left on the field doesn't come into contact with the air, so it decomposes anaerobically, emitting methane as a byproduct.
However, if the fields are allowed to drain enough to dry the top of the soil, methane emissions can be reduced by 50%. This method, known as Alternate Wetting and Drying (AWD), also saves water by about 30%, may increase yields, and promotes food security.
The trick is in outreach to the farmers to break the long-held belief that rice is an aquatic plant. (It is a semi-aquatic plant).
Stay tuned for more updates on the project!