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PIA Press Release

DA-9 prepares measures for El Niņo

Pagadian City (15 February) -- Should long drought occurs this year, the Department of Agriculture is preparing to mitigate measures so as to arrest its adverse effects on food production.

In response to the call of the Regional Disaster Coordinating Council (RDCC), DA regional executive director Oscar O. Parawan has organized the DA Quick Response Team (QRT) for El Niņo phenomenon.

As chair of the DA QRT, Parawan has called for a QRT meeting on Feb. 19 in Zamboanga City with PAGASA officials and the 24 heads of line and attached agencies of the department like the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM), Bureau of Plant and Animal Industries, among others.

Parawan requested them to bring their respective action plans for El Niņo. For his part, the executive director is now collecting data on vulnerable areas of the four banner programs of the department such as rice, corn, high value commercial crops and livestock.

Regional technical director Constancio Alama, in last Monday's (Feb. 8) office updates and reporting, briefed the personnel and staff of the regional field unit when to believe that El Niņo takes place.

Alama said that for rice planting season, dry season is from September to March, although he said we experience very hot temperature nowadays because the ozone layer (protective mantle from the sun) has been damaged.

NIA's cut-off date for distribution of irrigation supply for dry season is on March 31 and Alama said that farmers are aware of this and it is on their risk to venture on third cropping with no more supply from NIA.

According to the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), wet planting season comes in March to September. "If there is no rain in April and May, that is the time we consider it an El Niņo," the technical director said.

Alama also cited the PAGASA forecast that Zamboanga Peninsula will be moderately affected by drought. But DA will be monitoring the rainful pattern whether there is a deviation from the past seasons.

For two feared phenomena (El Nino and La Nina) Alama disclosed that there are 16 rice varieties under screening identified as drought resistant and tolerant to submergence with optimum yield.

"Other option, we will advice to farmer to shift crops. We will recommend after-rice crops like legumes (mongo, peanuts) water melon," he said.

Regional banner coordinator for High Value Commercial Crops (HVCC) Marcial Fantone also recommends vegetable farmers to plant short-termed green leafy vegetables in case of drought. "Never plant annual term vegetables because we don't know if drought would extend long more months. But they want to plant on a large scale, be sure to plant along the river banks or provide your own water pumps," he suggests. (DA9/PIA9) [top]

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