Cordillera task force briefs media on extent of El Nino damages
by Lito Dar
Baguio City (6 March) -- The Regional El Nino Task Force in the Cordillera said the damages on agricultural crops, poultry and livestock and aquatic resources due to El Niņo is a cause of alarm especially in Cordillera region, which is one of the badly hit regions by devastating typhoons last year.
In a media briefing last week on the effects of El Nino in the region, Department of Agriculture Regional Director Cesar Rodriguez, who chairs the El Nino Task Force said the municipality of Alfonso Lista in Ifugao is already declared in a state of calamity due to the extensive damages on its corn crops and livestock industry.
Rodriguez confirmed that more than 21,000 hectares of corn plantations in the said area have dried up. Majority of the P1.376 Million damages in the region's livestock sector also came from Ifugao, with the municipalities of Alfonso Lista and Aguinaldo as the most affected.
As of March 1 in CAR, there were already reported deaths of 45 goats, 7 carabaos, 113 cattles and two swine due to El Niņo. Except 8 cattle death in Kalinga, all the animal deaths are reported in Ifugao.
The Task Force is presently validating the new cases of deaths, (12 goats, 43 carabaos, 91 cattles and 127 chicken) reported from Kalinga.
Rodriguez explained that the hot weather brought by El Niņo triggers the re-emergence of diseases, which are already prevalent in some areas in CAR. Other possible causes of livestock deaths were heat strokes and respiratory ailments.
As for the fishery sector, Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) Regional Director Rebecca Dangawan reported a total loss of about P1.4 Million in Ifugao, which supplies 50 percent of the region's fish production.
For the other agricultural products in the region, Jun Yabes of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS) said their January to June forecast shows a decrease in production due to the effect of El Niņo.
Meantime, National Irrigation Authority (NIA-CAR) regional head John Socalo confirmed that based on their monitoring, water supply for irrigation is still sufficient but if no rainfall will come until April, there will be agricultural areas that will be affected. He also stressed that communal irrigations are already feeling the effect of El Niņo.
As for mitigation plans and actions, the regional El Niņo task force is already engaged in daily monitoring of stream flows in the national and communal irrigation systems, information dissemination on water saving technologies, monitoring of the occurrence of pests and diseases and distribution of vegetable seeds for immediate planting while irrigation water is still alive. The Task Force also submitted mitigation action plans, which is now waiting for funding.
The El Niņo Task Force was reactivated to conduct monitoring, formulate plans, recommend interventions to mitigate its adverse effect and to provide appropriate actions and responses on El Niņo related concerns.
In a related news, the national government through the initiative of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, so far distributed P10.9 Million worth of assistance and provided emergency employment to North Luzon battered by the latest El Niņo onslaught.
Newly appointed DA Secretary Bernie Fondevilla, also confirmed that President Arroyo also instructed the NIA to impose a moratorium on the payment by farmers of 150 kilos of palay per hectare as irrigation fees. Shealso ordered the restructuring of loans and interest payments incurred by El Niņo-hit farmers as well as moratorium on penalties from government financial institutions such as the Land Bank of the Philippines. (PIA) [top]