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PIA Press Release
2010/02/09

DA assures it is taking adequate steps to shield regions from El Nino

Manila (February 9) -- Department of Agriculture Bicol Regional Executive Director Marilyn Sta. Ana gave the assurance that the Department is taking adequate steps to sustain food security in the Bicol Region.

This assurance was given after PAGASA recorded below normal rainfall in the Bicolandia specifically in the provinces of Sorsogon, Camarines Norte and Camarines Sur. Only Sorsogon is included in the list of 23 provinces said to be moderately vulnerable to El Nino.

Director Sta. Catalina said that the agency will closely monitor rainfall conditions in the vulnerable provinces and will intensify information dissemination about El Nino and the mitigating measures which are being implemented in order to ensure that the agricultural sector, particularly the poor farmers, is shielded against the adverse effects of El Nino.

The DA Regional Field Unit 5 will also start its inventory and buffer stocking of palay and vegetable seeds, biologics, pesticides and other farm supplies to prepare for any eventuality.

El Nino is defined as a weather abnormality characterized by climatic irregularities which is manifested through extended dry spells, minimal rainfalls, delayed onset and abrupt end of the rainy season and isolated heavy downpours with short duration.

Among its unfavorable effects on agriculture include: soil degradation, deterioration of water quality due to salt-water intrusion, lesser water supply for irrigation, drying of pasture lands resulting to a shortage of grasses for ruminant animals and severe stress to livestock animals that will lower their disease-resistance and reproduction performance.

Ilocos Region

Not taking chances of being caught unaware, the Department of Agriculture Regional Field Unit-1 is currently setting up mitigating measure to brace Ilocos Region from severe production loss due to the adverse effects of El Nino.

Regional Executive Director Cipriano G. Santiago said that all the four provinces in the Ilocos Region, namely, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, and Pangasinan have been identified to be among the 23 provinces of the country which are highly vulnerable to the onslaught of the El Nino phenomenon all throughout the first semester of 2010.

Among the initial steps taken by the office is the identification of areas in the region vulnerable to drought and which is likely to suffer the most, thus, focus of intervention should be prioritized.

Of the four provinces of the region, considering the area, Pangasinan is considered to have the most area vulnerable to drought.

Based on the office?s assessment, about 10,000 hectares of farmlands in the Region are vulnerable to drought.

Mitigating measures being readied include the provision of cash crop seeds and corn seeds as substitute to rice crop; distribution of Shallow Tube Wells especially to identified vulnerable areas; and the possibility of providing premium funding for crop insurance of farmers.

Other measures being carried out is the regular monitoring of irrigation systems and looking into those that need repair and rehabilitation, by the National Irrigation Administration in the Region.

Cloud seeding has not been considered by the region as there are present crops that would be adversely affected should this be carried out like mangoes that are already on flowering stages and tobacco.

Stock up on rice straws to mitigate El Nino damages to ruminants

The Philippine Carabao Center in Region 6 called on farmers and livestock raisers to collect and stock rice straws in order to mitigate the adverse effects of El Nino to ruminants in Western Visayas.

Director Arn D. Granada, officer in charge of PCC based at West Visayas State University Calinog Campus, said that stocking rice straws in shaded areas will ensure feeds for cattle and carabaos this prolonged dry season.

The PCC6 also urged farmers to plant humidicula grass which is known to be resistant to drought. Humidicula is a crawling grass that grows up to about twenty inches in length and can withstand constant stamping.

The PCC also conducted series of information dissemination among organized carabao raisers associations on strategies to lessen effects of El Nino to dairy and meat type carabao stocks.

Livestock raisers are also advised to closely coordinate with the municipal agriculture office and the nearest PCC office for possible intervention this dry season.

The southern part of Iloilo and Antique is now experiencing severe dryness as the El Nino phenomenon is going to its peak these months of March and April.

Three provinces in Western Visayas namely, Capiz, Iloilo, Negros Occidental are among the 23 provinces in the Philippines which is considered highly vulnerable to the onslaught of El Nino.

The other two Western Visayas provinces, Aklan and Antique, on the other hand, belong the 24 provinces which are moderately susceptible to the effects of El Nino. (PIA 8) [top]

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