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PIA Press Release

South Cotabato need not worry about El Niņo yet, say officials

Koronadal (25 February) -- South Cotabato is not yet immensely affected by El Niņo phenomenon. This was assured by the Department of Agriculture Region XII and Office of the Provincial Agriculturist of South Cotabato in a media forum yesterday, February 24 at the Provincial Information Office of South Cotabato.

Present in the said forum were Mr. Leolito Siase, Soil & Water Area Coordinator of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management,Mr. Zaldy Baloron, Regional Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) Corn Coordinator of Department of Agriculture Region XII, Mr. Ruperto Dollaga, Supervising Agriculturist of the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist of South Cotabato,Engr. Ramon Bugacia, National Irrigation Authority (NIA) Superintendent and Mrs. Lina Mesina, Assistant Provincial Manager of National Food Authority (NFA).

"As of February 19, the recorded crop damage in rice program is 6,819 out of 136,794 hectares which is equivalent to only 5% of the total rice plantation," said Baloron.

He said that this extent of damage is way far for South Cotabato to be considered in a state of calamity.

Mr. Dollaga also assured that they have not yet encountered problems on feeds and livestock because in South Cotabato, grasses are still green.

However, since the duration of the dry spell can not be predicted because of climate change, measures have been initiated to mitigate the effects of El Niņo. These are: conducting of massive information dissemination; distribution of 400 bags of corn to cool places such as Lake Sebu; distribution of 60 kgs. of vegetable seed; corn production after rice and using organic fertilizer.

Mrs. Mesina said that the local government units should consider a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the National Food Authority for them to "purchase rice on credit". " Barangay councils may operate as outlets," said Mesina. The MOA will only operate in case a state of calamity will be declared.

Engr. Bugacia also seeks the cooperation of the local government units for them to make an ordinance that would punish anybody who dumps garbage on the irrigation. "Clogs in the gutters would surely cause the water to overflow," said Bugacia.

South Cotabato will also embark on cloud seeding next month. Mr. Dollaga said that they have delayed cloud seeding because of the mango growers who worry about their production if in case it rains.

"South Cotabato is the first province in Region 12 to request for a cloud seeding," said Siase. He noted that there are still cumulonimbus clouds these days so its best for them to the cloud seeding. Cumulonimbus is a type of cloud that is tall, dense, and involved in thunderstorms and other intense weather. Cumulonimbus clouds usually form from cumulus coop at a much lower height, thus making them, like cumulus clouds, grow vertically instead of horizontally, thus giving the cumulonimbus its mushroom shape. They are conducive for cloud seeding.

"The cloud seeding will start on March 1. A single-engine plane will take off from Buayan Airport. Each sortie lasts for one and a half hours. Eleven bags of salt are used per sortie. Each bag contains 25 kilos of salt. The best time for cloud seeding is from 10 am to 3pm. Cloud seeding will be done in the areas of South Cotabato with watershed," said Siase.

Siase also assured that cloud seeding has no ell-effects on the health of the people.(RMPadua/PIA 12) [top]

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