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PIA Press Release

DA advises farmers to plant "tough" crops

by Lito Dar

Baguio City (30 January) -- With the El Nino or dry spell already being felt by the agricultural sector in various parts of the country, the agriculture office in the region is urging farmers to plant "tough" crops such as pigeon pea (locally known as kardis), grain sorghum and sweet sorghum.

DA-CAR Information Officer Robert Domoguen said that the DA since the early part of January, has been advocating mitigation measures for the El Niño phenomenon and aside from plans to repair and rehabilitate irrigation systems.

Domoguen admitted that it would be hard for farmers to change their traditional planting ways, but he stressed that farmers have to adapt with the current situation. These so called "tough" crops need less water to grow and can be planted on various terrain. These can also be considered as future crops because there is also now a growing market or demand for such agricultural products locally and abroad, he explained.

Citing pigeon pea as an example, Domoguen stressed that aside from its high export demand in India, there is also now a growing market demand for it in Europe and in the US. According to Domoguen, Pigeon Pea, like sweet sorghum, has multiple uses. Aside from being a nutritious food, it can also be used as fuel wood, traditional medicine, animal feed, fodder and forage, and its stems can also used for live fencing and other purposes like in making cribs and basket weaving. The plant also helps prevent soil erosion.

Domoguen also shared that the India based – International Crop Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT) and the Philippine National trough the National Agricultural Research System (NARS) have already embarked on the establishment and the science-based production of these crops, which studies are now also being adopted by various state and universities in the country.

Meanwhile, DA-CAR Agri-business and Marketing Assistance Division head Pat Ananayo confirmed that the region's agricultural sector would not be spared from the possible effects of El Niño.

According to Ananayo, rain-feed crops from the upland portion of Cordillera as well as the other crops that are not well watered are deemed to be affected and would be less productive.

Ananayo re-iterated to farmers the importance of having a crop production programming (by commodity and per climate adaptation). He advised the Local Government Units to help by formulating needed policies in protecting the environment, particularly forest trees and watersheds, and policies on climate change mitigation from the municipal up to the provincial level.

"Everyone should have a role in the mitigation of the possible effects of El Niño," Ananayo said.

According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the El Niño phenomenon could be felt all through out the country for the first six months of the year or up to the month of June.

Taking the threat of El Niño seriously, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reactivated the El Niño Task Force, which was first created in 2001. The President also directed the DA to again head the said task force. (PIA) [top]

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