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PIA Press Release

Western Visayas starts to act against El Nino

Iloilo City (8 February) -- With the El Nino phenomenon already being felt in the country, government agencies and local government units in Western Visayas have started taking actions to mitigate its effects in line with the national government response.

The latest of these actions was the start this week of cloud seeding operations in Negros Occidental conducted by the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) together with the provincial government.

BSWM said nine sorties have been completed.

The provincial government headed by Gov. Isidro Zayco initially funded the hiring of a Cessna plane for cloud seeding in the province where 7,000 hectares of rice and 343 has. of corn are already affected by the prolonged dry spell based on the assessment conducted by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist and BSWM.

Cloud seeding in the province will continue in the next few months as the El Nino worsens. Aside from the wide areas of rice and corn crops already affected, around 28,000 has. of newly planted and rationed sugarcane in the southern part of the province are also threatened.

The provincial government has allocated P8 million for cloud seeding operations.

It will be recalled that cloud seeding is one of the measures adopted by the DA as part of the government's El Nino Mitigation Program. The other components of the program are the following: installation of shallow wells, rain pumps, drip irrigation systems, construction of small water impounding projects and development water springs; provision of hybrid seeds, farm implements and fertilizers to farmers; and, distribution of animal stocks, biologics and drugs for livestock growers.

The provincial government also has earmarked P25 million for the construction and rehabilitation of irrigation facilities in the province.

The National Food Authority (NFA) provincial office there is also readying buffer rice stocks in case of contingencies. As of last month, rice stocks in the province were good for 52 days with more supplies coming in.

Earlier, the regional office of the Department of Agriculture (DA) has urged farmers in Western Visayas to properly manage the utilization of water because of the possible drought brought about by El Nino.

It also advised farmers to plant crops that are drought-resistant and less dependent on water.

The DA chairs the El Nino Task Force that has been reactivated by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to lead and oversee the implementation of mitigating measures. DA Regional Executive Director Larry Nacionales said the government has allocated a P2.5-billion budget for the task force.

Although moderately affected by El Nino, the provincial government of Aklan is encouraging fishermen to raise freshwater prawns as alternative livelihood with the help of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR).

The province is also promoting tilapia and catfish production in upland areas to offer a source of additional income for farmers and other residents in said areas.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has advised Aklanons to start conserving and recycling water to help mitigate the effects of the phenomenon.

The El Nino phenomenon is caused by warming of the seas in the Pacific and is associated with increased rainfall across the east-central and eastern Pacific but with drier than normal conditions over northern Australia, Indonesia and the Philippines. (PIA 6) [top]

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