CITY OF SAN FERNANDO -- With agriculture being dependent on the natural resources such as water and land to sustain crop production, the early onset and forecasted prolonged prevalence of El Niño could gradually deplete the said resources.

However, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has implemented a number of mitigating measures and is continuously making long-term solutions to alleviate the impact of El Niño.

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Since December of last year, the DA with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA), has put into practice the rationalization of irrigation water use through scheduling and synchronizing their release in farming communities that have been identified as highly vulnerable areas.

The purpose is to provide the farmers with just enough water that they need to prevent water wastage in irrigating their croplands.

To address the El Niño, the DA has realigned P1.2 billion from its budget for the needed funds.

The DA has also made use of Water Saving Technologies and Rationing technique to augment and ensure the sustainability of agricultural production.

Water Saving Technologies (WST) are sound field water management practices that eliminates the wasteful practice of irrigation utilization wherein 3,000 to 5,000 liters of water is customarily used to produce just one kilogram of palay.

The 2013 rice self sufficiency plan by the DA is anchored on such measure for it to be realized.

The WST can save 15 to 35 percent of irrigation water without incurring yield reduction. Its implementation however involves modification of farming operations, water management and cultural practices so as to increase land productivity through equitable distribution of and access to irrigation water.

The NIA is also embarking on a restoration and rehabilitation drive to upgrade the condition and optimize the efficiency of irrigation and drainage structures.

Farmers are also advised to keep their rice fields moist and not continuously flooded, increase their soil’s organic content to improve water absorption and retention capacity, apply nitrogen and other fertilizers early.

The agriculture department is also stepping-up its research and development efforts which will be instrumental in attaining long-term viability in the field of agriculture.

On the livestock sector, the detrimental effect of El Niño is also evident, as malnutrition among ruminant animals has been observed due to the drying of pasture lands.

To address this problem, the DA has deployed mobile animal diagnostic laboratories and provided veterinary drugs and biologics to affected municipalities to preclude animal deaths. (Press Release/Arthur Oliver Q. Macabulos/DA-RFU 3)