THE Department of Agriculture (DA) 7 has prepared measures to mitigate the effects of the El Niño, which has affected the first semester cropping.

Angel Enriquez, DA 7 regional technical director for operations and finance, said in a press statement that as early as December last year, they created a task force to carry out its five-point program to ensure sustained crop production and farmers’ income in the face of probable El Niño crisis.

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Program

This five-point program includes: 1) ensuring water availability in production areas through different irrigation technologies and cloud seeding; 2) making available farm inputs appropriate for prolonged dry and drought agro-climatic conditions; 3) and engaging in crop and animal insurance in vulnerable areas; 4) providing technologies technology/options to enhance farmers’ coping and decision-making mechanisms during adverse conditions; and 5) creating a policy environment for effective and efficient implementation of the El Niño Mitigation Program at the regional and provincial level of possible vulnerable areas.

Enriquez said the task force that will implement the mitigation program has identified 23 “highly vulnerable” areas and 24 moderately vulnerable areas in the country.

Efforts

Through the GMA rice program, DA 7 established units of shallow tube wells and pump irrigation system open-source (Pisos), restoration and rehabilitation of existing irrigation systems and distribution of drought-resistant varieties such as PSB RC 68 intended for 125 hectares of affected rice areas.

DA, through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is also intensifying its efforts to promote the Water Saving Technology (Alternate wet and dry) in rice areas services by national and communal irrigation systems in Central Visayas, Enriquez said.

Production

In terms of corn production, Enriquez said the El Niño is expected to reduce area planted to corn by 2,671 hectares, which would result to an estimated production loss of 6,674 metric tons.

He added that some of the strategies designed to combat the effects of El Niño in the corn-producing areas include the distribution of 6,000 bags of seeds of drought-tolerant corn seed varieties; and encourage farmers to plant sweet potato and cassava as corn intercrop.

There will also be trainings of farmers on corn production and retooling of corn technicians; and distribution of 100,000 trichogramma cards for the control of corn borer.