THE province of Negros Occidental has suffered P6.11 million worth of damage to its rice crop due to the dry spell brought about by the weak El Niño weather phenomenon, according to the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council-Western Visayas (RDRRMC-6).
As of March 5, seven barangays in Cauayan town, which have 143 hectares of rice farms tilled by 253 farmers, have been affected.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) recently reported that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) was expected to hit the country between March to August this year.
The RDRRMC-6 report also said that Negros Occidental Governor Alfredo G. Marañon, Jr., who chairs the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC), already requested that Department of Agriculture-Western Visayas (DA-6) Regional Executive Director Remelyn R. Recoter conduct cloud seeding.
The PDRRMC has allocated funds for logistical support to the cloud seeding, as well as for the procurement of water pumps to mitigate the effects of the dry spell.
Meanwhile, the DA-6 is currently assessing the damage in other affected areas.
DA-6 Operations Division head Rene B. Famoso said reports from local government units will be validated.
“As of now, we are still conducting damage assessment and we are still validating the data that they have fed us,” he said.
Apart from Negros, the dry spell also hit areas in southern Iloilo and Antique.
The DA-6 has been conducting an information campaign on El Niño since the second half of 2018, through meetings with local government agriculturists and other stakeholders.
“We advised them to plant other crops rather than rice that needs more water,” Mr. Famoso said.
The DA assured that it has enough buffer stocks of rice, corn, and high-value commercial crops positioned in different provinces and these are ready for distribution to farmers who will be affected by the dry spell.
“Farmers can always visit the nearest municipal agriculture’s office because we have allocations for high value crop, corn, and even rice,” he said. — Emme Rose Santiagudo