DA readies cloud seeding in El Niño-hit areas

Bella Cariaso - The Philippine Star
DA readies cloud seeding in El Niño-hit areas
Locals walk over the dry part of Intang Lake in Pantabangan, Nueva Ecija on April 22, 2024.
STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines —  Cloud seeding operations are being readied in areas affected by the El Niño phenomenon, according to a ranking official of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

In an interview with The STAR, Agriculture Assistant Secretary and spokesman Arnel de Mesa said the Bureau of Soil and Water Management and concerned DA regional directors are coordinating with the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Office of Civil Defense and Philippine Air Force on the cloud seeding activities.

“Cloud seeding is our last resort. So far, cloud seeding operations (have been) done in Quirino, Isabela, specifically in the Magat Watershed. They are still on standby for seedable clouds,” De Mesa said.

He noted that a standby fund was also allocated in Region 6 or Western Visayas for possible cloud seeding operations.

“If there will be seedable clouds, in coordination with PAGASA and Philippine Air Force, cloud seeding operations will be done,” the DA official said.

He added that Western Visayas was among El Niño’s hardest-hit regions as the total damage to the agriculture sector there has reached P1.02 billion.

De Mesa pointed out that cloud seeding operations were effective as rains were experienced in watersheds of the reservoir.

“Rains happened in the reservoir as before it was done, concerned officials checked on seedable clouds. Cloud seeding is good if rains will come in intended areas. It is a last resource as it is costly, that is why the chance of success should be high,” he said.

At least P2.26 billion worth of interventions have been provided to farmers and fisherfolk after the total damage of El Niño in 11 regions has reached P4.39 billion, according to the DA official.

“The department has provided P2.16 billion worth of interventions to our farmers and fishers, including P1.065 billion worth of rice farmers’ financial assistance. This is the P5,000 being given to farmers with two hectares, and then we also provided P638 million worth of inputs. These are seeds, fertilizers and the like,” he said.

He added that at least P295 million worth of small-scale irrigation projects were provided by the DA and P77.5 million in survival and recovery loans to affected farmers.

“The Philippine Crop Insurance Corp. provided indemnification to about 7,322 farmers, totaling about P68 million. Our livestock program provided more than 60,000 animals and our Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources has provided about 111 alternative livelihood projects for affected fishers,” he said.

Aside from Western Visayas, affected by El Niño are the whole of Luzon, including the Cordillera Administrative Region, Regions 1 (Ilocos), 2 (Cagayan Valley), 3 (Central Luzon), 4-A (Calabarzon), 4-B (Mimaropa), 5 (Bicol) and Mindanao, including Regions 9 (Zamboanga peninsula), 11 (Davao) and 12 (Soccsksargen).

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