THE Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 yesterday said the agricultural sector in Central Visayas can now feel the effects of the El Niño phenomenon but is not yet as badly hit compared to other areas in the country.

Speaking before the 888 News Forum, Tomasita Cadungog and Juana Albaracin of DA 7 said farmers who were able to plant for the second cropping this year will be able to harvest. But they can’t anymore plant for the third cropping if no rain will come between now and May.

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Cadungog said there are areas in Region 7, including Cebu, where 25 percent of the vegetation is affected.

There are also areas where 25 to 50 percent of the vegetation is already affected.

Despite the ongoing El Niño, Cadu-ngog said the DA 7 is distributing seeds and seedlings of flowers and vegetables and even a drought-resistant rice variety, which can be grown without water.

Cadungog advised the farmers that if they can’t plant for the third cropping this year because of the El Niño, they should take the opportunity to rejuvenate the soil of their farms so they can have a good planting area once the rainy season comes.

“We are closely coordinating with the municipal and city agricultural officers in the different areas in Central Visayas so the farmers can be guided on what to do during the period of the El Niño,” Cadungog said.

Meanwhile, Henry Mejor and Edna Inocando of the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD), who were also in the same forum, said there is still adequate water for the consumers within their franchise area.

Mejor said although water supply has gone down slightly, there is enough for the consumers until June this year.

MCWD, Mejor said, is serving the water consumers at an average of 21 hours per day within its franchise area in Metro Cebu.

To maintain sustainable water supply, Mejor said MCWD is putting up additional wells. Just recently, the water utility firm opened three wells with a ge-neration capacity of 4,800 cubic meters of water daily.

Another well will be developed in Bara-ngay Lagtang, Talisay City with a generation capacity of 1,400 cubic meters.

“We are serving about 50 to 55 percent of the total household consumers (within the franchise area), a big improvement compared to 29 to 30 percent in 1989 to 1990. We are developing more wells to serve more consumers,” Mejor said.

Meanwhile, Provincial Government officials warned the public to be extra careful in storing water in drums and other containers that might be contaminated.

The Cebu Provincial Board (PB), in a resolution, said the lack of rainfall that results to water supply shortage will prompt people to store water in drums and in any other available containers for their daily consumption without any mechanism of ensuring its potability.

“The effects of El Niño have threatened the health condition of the general public in a way that it affects the water and food supply,” PB Members Juan Bolo and Julian Daan, sponsors of the resolution, said.

Drinking contaminated water can lead to illnesses such as hepatitis, cholera, amoebiasis and other water-borne diseases.

They said every individual must avoid drinking water in bottles without knowing where it comes from.

The public, Bolo and Daan added, must always clean their water containers and other receptacles for their safety and to avoid contamination. (EOB/RSA)