Dealing with El Niño

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33,000 rice farmers in Iloilo affected by dry spell

ABOUT 30% of the 110,000 rice farmers in Iloilo province have been affected by the prevailing El Niño phenomenon, and the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) is already anticipating that it would not be able meet the one million metric ton (MT) target production this year. “With the present condition, Iloilo’s one million metric tons target harvest for rice may not be achieved. We are expecting that our rice production for this year will really be affected,” said Provincial Rice Report Officer Nancy C. Superal. The 33,000 affected farmers are those who planted during the second cropping season late last year. In 2018, Iloilo was the top rice producer in Western Visayas and the country’s fourth with an output of 939,332 MT, according to the Department of Agriculture–Region 6 (DA-6). Ms. Superal advised farmers to adopt technology and appropriate inputs once the next cropping season starts to recoup the losses caused by El Niño.

OTHER PROVINCES
In other parts of Western Visayas, about 547.52 hectares of rice areas have been affected in the municipalities of Patnongon and Culasi, with an estimated loss of over P10.4 million, based on DA-6 data. The Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) also recently reported P6.11 million worth of damaged rice crops in Cauayan, Negros Occidental. Last Friday, the RDRRMC discussed the response plans of various agencies, such as cloud seeding, distribution of standby farm inputs and relief goods, among others. Based on the climate outlook of weather bureau PAGASA, 13 provinces in the Visayas will experience drought by the end of April. These are: Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte, Northern, and Western Samar. Three others — Bohol, Cebu, and Southern Leyte — will experience dry spell. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo

Dry spell’s initial damage to Cebu agri sector estimated at P100M

THE FREEMAN

CEBU PROVINCE is now under a state of calamity due to the effects of a weak El Niño. The provincial board passed Monday afternoon a resolution making the declaration, which paves the way for the release of emergency funds to assist farmers, fisherfolk, and other affected communities. Board Member Thadeo Jovito Z. Ouano, author of the resolution, said the declaration is backed by the visible damage and losses that the El Niño has caused on crops, livestock, fishery products, and water supply. The Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office (PDRRMO) also conducted an initial survey and assessment of the dry spell’s impact. PDRRMO head Baltazar S. Tribunalo Jr. said the initial damage estimate is P100 million. Mr. Tribunalo added that with the weak El Niño expected to persist until May or June, the number could increase, noting that the damage value recorded during the 2015-2016 El Niño episode in Cebu reached P215 million. Emily Lagrimas, PDRRMO Research and Planning Division head, said at least 27 local government units have declared damage and losses out of the 51 towns and component cities in the province. Mr. Tribunalo said the short-term assistance program include provision of water and cash-for-work for the affected farmers and fishermen. — The Freeman

Waiting for water

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Residents in various parts of Zamboanga City, where a state of calamity has already been declared, line up to get supply from water tankers deployed by the local government amid the dry spell. The City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office, meanwhile, has been ordered to draw up plans for the immediate construction of five small water impounding dams or weirs, with three in Pasonanca and two at the Saaz River in Patalon. Cloud seeding operations — with funding from the local government, Prime Water Infrastructure Corp. based inside the Zamboanga economic zone, and the Zamboanga City Water District — is also being scheduled to mitigate the impact of the prevailing El Niño phenomenon.