‘Implement mitigating measures,’ sugar farmers told amid El Niño


THE Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA) is urging sugar farmers in Negros Occidental to continue implementing El Niño mitigating measures as damage and production losses on sugarcane crops already surged to P178.5 million.

As of the April 20 damage report of SRA, the sugar losses were valued at P164.8 million, and in molasses, almost P13.7 million. The figures cover 8,642 affected planters, with a total sugarcane area of 9,758.71 hectares.

Helen Lobaton, acting head of the Extension Services Division of SRA-Visayas, said Thursday their monitoring and assessment still continue thus, the amount of damage for this crop year is still expected to increase.

Lobaton said that most of the farms largely affected by the persisting El Niño effects are those planted late.

Despite the technical assistance given by the SRA amid the prevailing warmer weather, Lobaton added that they urge farmers to continue implementing mitigating measures like trash mulching and ratooning.

Ratooning is a method of harvesting the crop which leaves the roots and the lower parts of the plant uncut for the ratoon or stubble crop to grow. Its main benefit is that the crop matures earlier in the season and decreases the cost of preparing the field.

Mulching, on the other hand, is done by utilizing protective cover, usually of organic matter such as leaves, straw, or peat, placed around plants to prevent the evaporation of moisture, freezing of roots, and growth of weeds.

“It is also best for sugarcane farmers to use drought-resistant varieties as well as beneficial microorganism,” Lobaton said.

On Wednesday, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist reported P221.88 million damage in rice, corn, high value commercial crops (HVCC) and tilapia, mainly due to dry spell and rat infestation.

The rice sector has the highest losses worth P211.97 million; corn, P3.83 million; HVCC, P5.10 million; and tilapia, P985,250.

For livestock and poultry animals, the Provincial Veterinary Office had earlier reported damage and losses amounting to P3.16 million.
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