CACAO farmers will be needing the government's help in terms of irrigation to be able to survive El Niño, an industry leader said.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) forecasts there is a 56% chance of El Niño happening between March to May this year.
Cacao Industry Development Association of Mindanao, Inc. (Cidami) president Val Turtur said cacao farmers will need all the help it can get from the government.
"The El Niño will affect the production of cacao," Turtur said.
He said while it is still the lean season, they hope the El Niño will not reach June or July. It is during these months when the cacao trees begin to bud.
Turtur said should El Niño extend to June or July, he expects the production of cacao to drop by 30 percent or more.
In order to prevent this, Turtur is appealing to the government to provide water irrigation systems to cacao farmers.
"Many cacao farms are owned by small holders who cannot afford to invest in an irrigation system," he said.
Turur said since the government stopped providing cacao seedlings, he suggests the fund originally alloted for this be realigned for water irrigation systems.
"If it is the dry season, you have to water the cacao trees. The problem is the source of water is far from the farms. I hope the government can help in this," he said, adding that they are also educating the cacao farmers on how to deal with the dry season.