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PIA Press Release

Davao Norte yet to feel El Niņo

By Jean Duron-Abangan

Tagum City (9 February) -- Davao del Norte is yet to feel the beat of El Niņo's heat.

Noting still sufficient water supply to rice farms and increased light intensity, Provincial Agriculturist Dominador Encarnacion in an interview projected an increase in rice production within 1st quarter this year.

As the prevailing climate situation is favorable to "photo-synthesis", rice production would hit an average of about five tons per hectare this cropping season, Encarnacion said.

Davao del Norte is among the identified areas which would be affected by the long dry spell that the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) has forecast to last until July this year.

The Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM), under the Department of Agriculture, in cooperation with the Philippine Airforce has started its cloud-seeding operation in areas which starts to feel the El Niņo.

Cloud-seeding sorties were done early this month in Cagayan Valley Region and in Negros Occidental.

News release from DA said that BSWM is "facilitating the deployment of aircraft to conduct cloud seeding operations over Regions 4 (CALABARZON) and 11 (Southern Mindanao)" in which Davao del Sur and Davao del Norte" are the identified areas in Mindanao to experience El Niņo.

Encarnacion said January rainfall in the province was measured at 206.10 mili-meter which he described as "normal."

His office has submitted rainfall report to the DA as basis of declaring the province among the areas which would be affected by the long dry spell this year.

Encarnacion stressed that Davao del Norte is yet to feel the El Niņo: water supply is still sufficient and that rice farms are growing healthy, showing signs of good harvest.

"Dili pa apektado ang atong rice crop karon. (Our rice crop is still unaffected)," he said

The three irrigation systems of the province--- Lasang River Irrigation System, Kipalico Irrigation System and Saug River Irrigation System?are still at their sufficient levels.

As a mitigating measure, the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAGRO) is urging rice farmers to adopt the water-saving technology which ensures proper management of water distribution.

"We would not pump in water (to rice fields) unless water goes down at a critical level," Encarnacion explained.

The water-saving technology uses a percolation gadget (which can either be a bamboo or a PVC pipe) installed in rice fields to indicate water levels.

Applying the technology saves water from irrigation systems, thus storing the much-needed supply in case El Niņo stay long and threaten to take a heavy toll on agriculture, Encarnacion explained.

Where irrigation systems cannot reach, the province has spread in rain-fed areas, about 60 shallow tube wells from which farmers can draw water supply.

In case the dry spell goes at its height, the province would put into function its water impounding ponds to store water from streams.

Encarnacion said the provincial government has yet to convene its El Niņo Task Force but is keeping close watch of such phenomenon. (PIA XI) [top]

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