Cebu City braces for El Niño

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Tuesday, May 6, 2014


THE Cebu City Agriculture’s Office warned farmers in mountain barangays on Tuesday against the extreme heat and told them to prepare for the long drought that is expected to hit in the coming months.

City Agriculturist Joelito Baclayon said the summer heat has yet to affect the crops, but the situation might change once the country experiences the full brunt of the weather phenomenon El Niño.

Baclayon said they’re advising farmers to conserve water so as not to dry up the springs, the major source of water in these areas.

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He also told them not to set fire to the grass on their farms. “It will affect the moisture of their lands,” he said. He said farmers should let the grass decompose naturally.

Baclayon said they’ve already requested a budget of P4.7 million to help farmers prepare for the El Niño.

Water catchments

The amount will be divided among the 31 mountain barangays, with each getting at least P154,000.

The money will be used to help support irrigation systems in upland areas and to buy equipment that will minimize the effects of the heat, such as hoses and water tanks.

Baclayon said the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Central Visayas office is also helping the City prepare farmers for the dry spell.

He said the DA is developing spring water catchments in Barangays Sudlon I, Sinsin, Tabunan, and Tagbao, among others.

Mayor Michael Rama, for his part, already instructed the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to convene so it can come up with measures that will help mitigate the effects of El Niño.

He also wants the Association of Barangay Councils to study the possibility of evacuating residents to sports complexes, particularly those whose houses are exposed to extreme heat.

In a related development, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR)-Central Visayas has organized local fire brigades in nine pilot areas for the National Greening Program (NGP) in anticipation of El Niño, said Dr. Isabelo Montejo, DENR-Central Visayas executive director.

Firelines, greenbreaks

Montejo has identified critical or hot-spot sites such as those located in the towns of Argao and Oslob in Cebu; Ubay, Buenavista, Getafe, Pilar and Talibon in Bohol; and Ayungon and Bindoy in Negros Oriental.

Aside from the task force being created in these areas, Montejo has also directed Community Environment and Natural Resources Office heads to install “firelines” that can be used to contain a bush fire in case it breaks out.

Firelines, also known as firebreaks, are 10-meter vegetation-free strips that are usually established at the borders and at given intervals inside the plantation.

Greenbreaks, or shelterbelts, which are strips of vegetation composed of fire-resistant trees, shrubs and vines, are to be established as well, Montejo added.

He said they will conduct training on forest fire prevention in various areas in the region.

About 365 members of different people’s organization, operatives of DENR’s Bantay Lasang, soldiers, barangay officials and forest guards are expected to participate in the trainings.

Community help

Montejo said the commitment of surrounding communities is crucial in protecting NGP areas against forest or grassland fires.

He said careless and irresponsible human activities, such as throwing a lighted cigarette, making campfires, and burning forestland for pasture, or “kaingin,” are often the main causes of forest fires.

Montejo said grasses and other vegetation often dry up and become flammable during the summer or dry months.

Forest guards should collect dried leaves and other vegetation during this time. (Sun.Star Cebu)

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

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