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PIA Press Release

DA sets up El Niņo command center for Ilocos Region

by Cristina Arzadon

Laoag City (23 February) -- Farmlands in the Ilocos Region are drying up but this is not due to El Niņo.

The Department of Agriculture in Region I said the Ilocos provinces are still in the regular dry season between November to May where rainfalls are either minimal or none at all.

Farmlands in the Ilocos Region will start feeling the impact of the El Niņo phenomenon only in May if no rain showers would occur during the wet season.

Crispulo Bautista, DA regional technical director, told Bombo Radyo-Laoag that the crop damages reported in the media are the result of the regular dry season and not because of El Niņo.

"Contrary to popular belief, what we are experiencing now is the normal dry season, not the El Niņo," he said.

Bautista said the Ilocos Region is characterized by two climate types namely the dry season from November to May and the wet season from June to October.

"There is no El Niņo in our areas (at this time). This is just the normal dry season," he said.

The DA, however, has activated its regional command center for disaster for the conduct of daily monitoring of farmlands that would be affected during the dry spell.

Agriculture officials have focused their relief operations on areas whose farmlands rely on rainfall for irrigation.

Bautista said more than 200 units of gasoline-fed water pumps and vegetable seeds for alternative planting have been released to rain-fed farmlands in the Ilocos Region.

But Jose Buduan and other farmers in Pagudpud town refused to use water pumps because of high gasoline prices.

"We would rather plant drought-resistant crops instead of using water pumps. Whatever gains we have would be consumed by gasoline expenses," Buduan said.

Bautista said the DA could not recommend the conduct of cloud-seeding to induce rains because too much rain would spell disaster to other crops like mangos and tobaccos.

"We need to do a balancing act. There are crops that need water while other crops don?t," he said.

He said the National Irrigation Administration has advised farmers not to plant farmlands that lack irrigation facilities.

At least 700 hectares in Amburayan in La Union have not been planted beginning this year because of lack of irrigation.

Most crops that are expected to suffer from the dry spell include rice, corn and high-value crops. (PIA) [top]

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