OPA braces for El Niño

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Wednesday, May 7, 2014


THE Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) said Tuesday that their office is bracing for the effects of the El Niño phenomenon and assured Negrenses of preparations, including the implementation of cloud seeding operation.

"We already have programs (to mitigate its effects) with our Provincial Risk Reduction and Management Council," Provincial Agriculturist Igmedio Tabianan said.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) is foreseeing the onset of El Niño in June which may peak during the last quarter of 2014 and may last until the first quarter of 2015.

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El Niño could affect the normal rainfall pattern in the country generally resulting in reduced rainfall. Different parts of the country may experience varying rainfall impacts, the state weather agency said.

Tabianan urged farmers to enroll their farms with the Negros First Universal Crop Insurance Program (NFUCIP) so that, in case of calamity, they can avail of reimbursement.

The NFUCIP, which started in 2010, ensures rice farms against calamities and pests and diseases infestation through the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation.

Negros Occidental, which produces about 60 percent of the country’s sugar output, is also now among the country’s top rice producers.

Tabianan said the Provincial Government has allocated about P7 million for about 30 hours of cloud seeding operation.

"If there is a necessity, then we are ready for that. If fact, before summer time, if rains did not come, we were supposed to conduct cloud seeding operation. We have already coordinated with the Bureau of Soils. We could use it if El Niño happens," he said.

Tabianan said the province also continues to implement irrigation projects with sustainable water supply.

During the onset of El Niño, they encourage farmers to choose short duration crops such as high-value crops or vegetables that require less water, he said.

“We are on the process of procuring additional pumps for irrigation and jetmatic pumps that can sustain water supply not only for vegetable production but also for drinking purposes,” Tabianan said.

Tabianan said they have been ready for pests and diseases since the 1990s, adding they are monitoring the possible occurrence of red tide, especially when extreme heat continues.

Negros Occidental has been a red tide area before but it has been contained in the province for almost 20 years now, he said.

“We also have insurance for seaweed production. We have built in preparations for that," the OPA chief assured.

Tabianan said planters are counting on the cloud seeding operation because when El Niño occurs, the rains it can produce will prolong moisture in the fields.

“Our farmers should not worry because we could mitigate the effects of El Niño,” he added.

Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on May 07, 2014.

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