NEGROS Occidental Gov. Alfredo Marañon Jr. said on Wednesday that they are still waiting for the budget from the Department of Agriculture (DA) to fund the possible cloud seeding operation to induce rains in the province.


“Cloud seeding operation is very costly that's why we are asking for budget from the DA and the province will provide a counterpart fund,” he said, adding that the agency also has technical capability to conduct the operation.


Still, Marañon expressed apprehension over cloud seeding.


Sometimes rains would fall on seas instead, and could not serve its purpose of providing water to the agricultural plantations, he said.


The governor also noted that cloud seeding operation could be more expensive now compared to the cost in previous years.


Farmers, especially those who plant sugarcane, are already starting to fear for their fields that are already drying up because of lack of rains in the past months.


Marañon had urged Negrenses to pray for rains this summer to avoid damage to agriculture brought by El Niño.


Earlier this week, the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) urged the Provincial Government to hasten the conduct of cloud seeding operations to prevent damage to sugarcane crops.


SRA Administrator Ma. Regina Bautista-Martin said in a letter to Marañon that “(e)xcept for Lopez and Sagay-Danao Mill District, wherein 50 percent of the area is affected, the rest of (the province) is in great need of cloud seeding.”


Negros Occidental produces for 60 percent of the country’s total sugar output.


The SRA had earlier said that total raw sugar production for crop year 2014-2015 is now estimated to be less than the initial projection of 2.5 million metric tons due to the unfavorable weather conditions.


According to the SRA, 69,582 hectares of sugarcane plantation in southern Negros; 52,528 hectares for central Negros; and 48,798 hectares for northern Negros needs to be prioritized for cloud seeding.


Martin said that although “prolonged dry spell brought about by the El Niño phenomenon has no effect yet to the standing crops, it would be a different story for the next cropping season.”


The cropping season begins September 1 and ends August 31 of the following year.