The predicted El Niño this year could gravely affect at least 12,000 livestock and poultry raisers in Cebu City.
Dr. Alice Utlang, special assistant to Mayor Michael Rama for agriculture, told SunStar Cebu that animals and livestock are at risk during the dry spell when the water supply could run low.
The City Agriculture Department has recorded 11,000 hog raisers, and 1,000 raisers of cattle, goats, carabaos and chickens.
Utlang said hydration is essential in keeping farm animals healthy, and the lack of water may cause various illnesses such as heat stroke and viral infections.
“So far, we have recorded only one case of a hog dying of heat stroke in the mountain barangay this month of April. The farmer placed the hog in a badly ventilated cage,” Utlang said on Friday, April 28, 2023.
She added that the extreme heat has not yet affected farm animals in Cebu City on a wider scale, and the supply of meat remains stable in the city’s markets.
The City Government has urged livestock and poultry raisers to prepare for the dry spell through water conservation and ample planning.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) Visayas reiterated the detrimental effects of El Niño.
Alfredo Quiblat Jr., an engineer and the chief of the Pagasa Visayas Regional Services Division, is encouraging farmers to shift their focus towards cultivating crops that have the ability to withstand prolonged periods of drought.
The meteorologist representing the state has recommended that farmers opt for crop varieties that require minimal water and can tolerate extended dry spells while still producing satisfactory yields.
“They should also plan ahead the schedule of planting crops and its corresponding time of harvest according to the predicted schedule of El Niño,” he said Friday.
The Pagasa central office reported on April 18 that the probability of El Niño occurrence has increased from 55 percent to 80 percent from June to September and 87 percent from November to January.
El Niño refers to the warming of the ocean surface, or above-average sea surface temperatures, in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean.
Quiblat emphasized that although El Niño will have a significant impact on the amount of rainfall during the period, it does not necessarily mean that there will be no rain.
The onset of El Niño will sequentially enter together with the southwest monsoon, commonly known as “Habagat,” around late June to October every year.
Quiblat encouraged the public to gather rainwater during rainfalls in anticipation of the potential water shortage that could arise due to El Niño.
“There is still a possibility of rain. We expect El Niño to drastically affect us in the last quarter of the year until the first quarter of 2024,” he said.
Quiblat said people should be smart when using water, and they must conserve all the time.