Rice farmers barely feel El Nino effects
By Mai Gevera
Davao City (30 January) -- Region XI is seeing a slim chance of the effects of El Nino. As monitored by the El Nino Task Force head Dr. Frisco Malabanan, rice farmers in the region have already planted their rice fields and retain enough water until harvest season.
Malabanan visited and inspected rice fields in Davao Oriental, Davao del Norte, and Davao del Sur since Thursday (January 28).
"The rice farmers told me that the region is not feeling the effects of this mild El Nino as forecasted by Pag-asa. They have been experiencing rain in the last two weeks," he said.
The region has a total rice planting area of 49,180 hectares and out of this total number, close to 44,000 hectares is already irrigated and 5,000 hectares is rain-fed.
He said that even if the effects of El Nino will start to set in few weeks from now, still the rice farmers are now in a safe situation having their area 90 percent planted. Only the remaining 10 percent are still in the planting stage.
Department of Agriculture XI regional director Dr. Carlos Mendoza admitted that the region is experiencing an unpredictable weather.
"We are always on the watch and we see to it that the department can easily switch from El Nino to La Nina," he said.
The reactivation of El Nino Task Force would still take effect nationwide as revived by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. The task force is tasked to come up with a comprehensive and integrated action plan to address the El Nino phenomenon.
The task force was reactivated after receiving forecasts by Pag-asa of a possible peaking of the said phenomenon by the first half of this year.
DA Undersecretary Bernie Fondevilla said in a press briefing at the Malacanang that crop and fishery losses could reach close to 10 billion if the effect of the El Nino is moderate.
He said the projected land area to be affected by a moderate El Nino is 543,844.8 hectares in rice while 273,411.6 hectares in corn. He added that commercial crops such as vegetables could also be damaged and could reach as much as 3.804 million metric tons.
Fondevilla said aside from rice, corn and vegetables, sugarcane plantations as well as fisheries sector can also be affected by the lack of water and extreme temperatures caused by the El Nino.
As mitigation measures, specific measures were recommended during the Cabinet meeting such as cloud seeding for both corn and rice areas; water management especially in dams under the control of National Irrigation Administration (NIA); distribute shallow tube wells for farmer; distribution of microbial fertilizers as well as organic fertilizers for corn farmers; and give out vegetable seeds for farmers against small water irrigation facilities. (PIA XI) [top]