OPA gearing up to counter El Niño effects

OFFICE of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) head Igmedio Tabianan has already instructed his personnel to prepare to allay the adverse effects of El Niño phenomenon to crops in Negros Occidental.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) reported that the country will be feeling the full impact of El Niño towards the end of the year and early months of next year.

During El Niño, the temperature is higher than normal and rainfall is below normal, it said.

Senior Agriculturist Dina Genzola said members of the Agricultural Productivity Management Division already conducted a meeting yesterday to start mapping out the plans and safety nets for possible El Niño effects.

Also, OPA is now closely coordinating with the Provincial Disaster Risk Management and Program Division (PDMPD) especially in terms of weather monitoring, Genzola said.

Even with the Department of Agriculture (DA) having funds already, she said OPA will still make budget proposal for provincial government allocation as part of their mitigating measures.

Moreover, all major commodities especially rice may be greatly affected by El Niño, Genzola said. Marginal farmers are therefore advised to already start planting alternative crops like taro (gabi), sweet potato, and cassava which can be used as substitute staple food when major commodities are damaged, she added.

Aside from crop insurance, Genzola said the provincial government along with DA and other attached agencies has allocated fund to conduct cloud seeding operations if needed to help local farmers lessen crop production losses.

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