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DA seeks additional P2 B budget for El Niño

(The Philippine Star) - October 8, 2015 - 10:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The Department of Agriculture (DA) is seeking a supplemental budget of P2.06 billion to blunt the destructive effects of the prevailing El Niño phenomenon.

The department’s latest supplemental budget proposal – presented before the El Niño Task Force headed by the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) – is higher than the P1.8 billion original drought mitigation budget proposed in 2014.

“We have submitted, through NEDA a proposal for a supplementary budget to fund the mitigation measures for El Niño,” said Ed de Luna, Agriculture assistant secretary for field operations.

The budget, sought for release before the end of the year, would cover production support for rice, corn, high value crops, livestock and fisheries. It would also fund other interventions such as crop pest management, water management and information campaign.

Under the new proposal, the DA intends to optimize production in areas not threatened by the dry spell. Fast-maturing crops would also be planted in areas vulnerable to drought.

Cultivation areas severely damaged by the dry spell would also be placed under rehabilitation.

Water management interventions include the conduct of cloud seeing operations, provision of open source pumps, replacement of non-serviceable pump and engine sets and construction of small irrigation systems.

Interventions for production include the distribution of high quality and multi-stress variety of rice and corn seeds, promotion of mungbean, peanut, soybean, cucurbits and sweet potato as alternative crops, intensification of pest control, and provision of soil ameliorants.

For the livestock subsector, the department would promote use of tunnel ventilation and other cooling facilities in swine growing facilities. It would also distribute veterinary drugs and biologics such as antibiotics, multivitamins and dewormers.

For the fisheries sector, the department would monitor the water quality and fish stocks in brackish water and freshwater areas.

De Luna said even without the supplemental budget, the department has been carrying out interventions.

“In areas that were already hit by the dry spell such as Isabela, Cagayan, North Cotabato, South Cotabato, and Soccsksargen, we are already providing seeds for use in replanting so they can recover in terms of production,” he said.

De Luna said damage inflicted by the prevailing dry spell to the domestic agriculture sector is now placed at P3 billion.

The weather bureau earlier said a mature El Niño is now present in the tropical Pacific Ocean and is expected to strengthen within the quarter.

The prevailing dry spell is considered the strongest since 1950.

Pagasa estimates by February 2016, 80 percent of the country would be experiencing drought.

“Our department is prepared to respond to this as we have already positioned interventions,” De Luna said.

ACIRC ATILDE BUDGET DE LUNA DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE EL NI NATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY NORTH COTABATO PACIFIC OCEAN SOUTH COTABATO TASK FORCE
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