Cebu News

DA braces for El Niño

The Freeman

CEBU, Philippines —  A ranking official of the Department of Agriculture (DA) on Saturday said that the government is now preparing for the threat of El Niño phenomenon following the warning of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) that the country can experience below-normal rainfall conditions, which could cause droughts in some areas.

In an interview, Agriculture Assistant Secretary and deputy spokesman Rex Estoperez said that the DA has existing guidelines to minimize the impact of El Niño.

“Whether it is La Niña or El Niño, it is always the agriculture sector which is always affected. We have existing guidelines on how to prevent the huge impact of El Niño,” Estoperez said.

The weather bureau has announced that the La Niña condition has ended, adding that there is an increased likelihood of a transition to El Niño.

“Even before the announcement (of El Niño), the DA has programs available but we are waiting for the official advisory from PAGASA,” he said.

“Among our measures include a change of calendar in planting, second the water management,” Estoperez added.

Estoperez said that the cloud seeding will always be the last option of the government in case the dry spell is experienced in the country.

“Cloud seeding is our last choice since it's very expensive,” he noted.

According to Estoperez, the DA will coordinate with PAGASA and other concerned agencies involved in the preparation for the El Niño.

He said the role of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is crucial to manage the water for irrigation.

“NIA has a big role here in terms of water management. Just like the potable water in our homes, there should be no leakages in terms of water for irrigation in our farms,” Estoperez added.

The United States Geological Survey said El Niño refers to a warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.

It said El Niño recurs irregularly, from two years to a decade and can disrupt normal weather patterns globally.

The DA said that Mindanao had been the hardest hit area amid an extended period of drought in 2016. Maguindanao was one of the seriously affected where about 17,000 hectares of rice and cornfields had been damaged, with more than 20,000 farmers affected. — Bella Cariaso, Philippine Star News Service (FREEMAN)


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