AN OFFICIAL of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) said an additional 60 hours of cloud seeding operations across Northern Mindanao Region is in the pipeline.

Engineer Henry Cacayan, BSWM-cloud seeding team leader, said the Department of Agriculture (DA)-Central Office is set to donate more hours to add to the ongoing 45 hours cloud seeding operations worth P2.4 million in the region.

Cacayan said only 10 hours is what's left of the 45 hours allocated for the provinces of Bukidnon, Misamis Oriental, and Lanao del Norte.

Aside from bringing cooler temperature, Cacayan said the cloud seeding is generating light and moderate to heavy rains in the drought-affected areas.

"Yung 60 hours is on process pa sa Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines (Caap) yung clearance to conduct cloud seeding, upon release mag-start na agad ang operations natin," he said.

Cacayan said the rains will increase water levels in dams and provide relief to standing crops that could still be recovered.

At least 15 bags of salt are loaded every flight by trained cloud spotters which is composed of agriculture technicians, BSWM team, and DA employees.

Cloud seeding, or the process of spreading dry ice or iodide aerosols into the upper part of clouds to form rain, is used as an alternative way to help farmers preserve their agricultural productivity which is currently at stake with the El Niño phenomenon.

Meanwhile, farmers from Northern Mindanao and Cagayan de Oro City will hold a picket rally on Friday to ask the local government units to release funds for farmers affected by drought.

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas-Northern Mindanao (KMP-NMR) will hold rallies in front of the City Hall and Capitol grounds on the same day when the world celebrates Earth Day.

"Pangayoon namo ang pagpagawas sa budget sa hulaw nga tambungan sa 2,000 ka mga mag-uuma," KMP-NMR said.

The City Council in Cagayan de Oro still has not approved the declaration of a state of calamity but has given rice to affected farmers as assistance.