THE Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) is currently validating reports on the damage caused by extreme heat to some rice farms at Cauayan town in southern part of Negros Occidental, its top official said.
Provincial Agriculturist Japhet Masculino said initial reports showed that these farms in different stages have incurred million worth of damage.
In terms of area, they have yet to conduct validation. The OPA is also assessing whether it is already an effect of dry spell.
“Lack of water in this area might be an effect already of the upcoming summer season intensified by El Niño phenomenon,” he said, adding that OPA is also monitoring other localities in the province.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) earlier reported that a mild El Niño phenomenon has already been affecting some provinces in the country.
The state weather bureau, in an advisory, said a weak El Niño is occurring in the tropical Pacific region and will likely continue until the second quarter of the year.
Pagasa said the phenomenon may cause varying impacts such as warmer than average surface temperature and prolonged dry season.
As this developed, OPA is advising farmers in the province to observe “timing” in planting crops.
Masculino urged rice farmers in areas where water sources are depleted not to pursue with planting rice for the meantime.
Instead, they (farmers) may resort to vegetable production.
In terms of sugarcane, Masculino said 35 percent of the total farms devoted to such crop are still up for harvest.
“The remaining 75 percent up for planting may have problems especially when the farms have no near water sources like irrigation,” he added.
OPA said that based on forecast, extreme heat and its effect will be felt most during this month as rainfall is way below normal.
There will be below normal rainfall in April. In May, the chances of rain is on normal level particularly in southern Negros areas.
“Given this projection, we could expect that summer and El Niño effects can be felt only in a short span of time,” Masculino said.
Masculino, however, said mitigating measures should be put in place to lessen the possible adverse effects of dry weather to the province's agriculture sector.
Aside from allocating funds for possible cloud seeding operation, OPA has also requested for support to the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas.
The provincial agriculturist said they are working on speeding up the procurement of equipment such as water and irrigation pumps especially for areas that need water.
Masculino said OPA also has available vegetable planting materials that can be distributed to farmers.
“We are optimistic that calamities would not hugely impact the province’s overall agriculture production especially rice,” he added.