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PIA Press Release

Mindanao task forces prepare El Niņo mitigation plan

Butuan City (March 4) -- The Regional Task Forces (TF) on the El Niņo phenomenon of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Northern and Northeastern Mindanao regions were reactivated Wednesday to conduct mitigating measures on the dry spell that started besetting the region.

Agriculturists and technical men started lining up mitigating plans at their respective DA regional offices to counter on the effects of the drought.

The reactivation of Task Force El Niņo was recently ordered by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to enhance inter-agency coordination in the formulation and implementation of measures to mitigate the adverse effects of the said phenomenon on the people.

Members of the task force include all the regional directors of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD), Department Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Department of Health (DOH), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Energy (DOE), Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), National Commission for Indigenous People (NCIP) and the Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Council (RAFC).

Among the functions of the task force are the formulation of a comprehensive disaster preparedness and rehabilitation plan to help the people cope with the phenomenon and minimize its disastrous effects and regularly monitor the implementation of such plan.

It is also aimed to conduct a massive information campaign to educate the public on the phenomenon and the needed interventions to reduce its expected adverse impact and enlist the assistance and support of other government agencies or instrumentalities and the civil society in pursuance of its functions and objectives.

The task force will likewise identify possible funding sources to implement its activities in coordination with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

In a related development, the Philippine Air Force's (PAF) 900th Air Weather Group is setting up preparations for cloud seeding operations to induce the occurrence of rain in Region 10.

DA Region 10 Regional Director Lealyn A. Ramos said the Northern Mindanao El Niņo Task Force identified for cloud seeding watershed of major reservoirs used for irrigation and in areas where the crop stage would require water.

The priority areas are those near the river basins of Lake Lanao in Lanao del Sur and the Pulangi River in Bukidnon due to need to bring to the required levels of water that drive the turbines of the hydro-electric plants.

Lake Lanao in Lanao provinces and Pulangi River are the sources of Mindanao power grid that already seriously suffered low water level for almost two months now.

Meanwhile, at least P149.758 million will be needed by the DA to mitigate the effects of the El Niņo phenomenon in Northern Mindanao.

Different sources from members Regional Task Force on the El Niņo already recommended the need to implement intervention programs on the following anticipated problems: reduction of irrigation water, occurrence of pests and diseases, high prices of food commodities due to low production and indiscriminate slaughter/disposal of breeding animals.

The other mitigating measures include: the implementation of water rotational methods in the national irrigation systems (NIS) and establishment of drainage re-use systems and water transitory structures by the National Irrigation Administration.

Lending of pump and engine sets to El Nino affected farmers and fisher folk organizations until the duration of the El Niņo episode and technical assistance to LGUs in the conduct of pest surveillance and control measures that may occur as the dry condition and warmer temperature progresses through the summer, by the Regional Crop Protection Center.

As of January 15 this year, a total of 238,622 hectares of land in the region have been planted to crops of which 97,521 hectares are vulnerable with a projected production losses of 211,712 metric tons, DA officials said.

For livestock, the vulnerable population are 120,689,850 heads with a projected production losses of 20,068 MT.

While for poultry, the vulnerable population is expected to reach 224,504,745 heads with a projected production losses of 2,245,047 MT.

The gradual decrease in sea surface temperature is expected to still be within the El Niņo threshold and likely to sustain its moderate strength until its mature stage which will last up to June 2010. (muc/PIA-Caraga) [top]

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