TABUK CITY, Kalinga – The impending El Niño will have less effect on agriculture production in the Upper Chico service area if all stakeholders commit to adhere to mitigation measures, an official said.

Irrigation Management Office (IMO) Division Manager Raymundo Apil informed that the water supply from the Chico River Irrigation System is sufficient even in a long dry spell so long as farmers discipline themselves on the ways of conservation.

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“We advised farmers to farm early last November to catch up with the dry season cropping, to miss the time that the water level of the Chico river becomes low”, he explained adding that since they farmed only in January, water have to be scheduled by March to equitably provide supply for the whole area.

Apil, who manages the IMO covering the provinces of Mt. Province, Kalinga and Ifugao, appealed to members of the irrigators association to follow strictly the schedule.

“Water will be enough, the only weapon to escape the effects of drought is to share each other the benefits of water and show concern by controlling wastage of water”, Apil urged farmers.

Girding for an abnormal dry season, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo earlier ordered the reactivation of the El Niño Task Force, an inter-agency body mandated to map out and oversee the implementation of plans and programs to address concerns relative to the effects of the weather phenomenon.

The Department of Agriculture said the country is expecting a moderate El Niño this year, which could result in a P10 billion-worth of damage to crops and fisheries.

Among the measures being considered include: cloud seeding in corn and rice plantation areas, the adoption of water resource management policies, distribution of shallow tube wells for the farmers and distribution of microbial fertilizers, organic fertilizers for rice and corn farmers, and vegetable seeds for vegetable farmers.

Apil urged the public to help maintain water supply through tree planting and sustain watersheds. (Peter Balocnit)