DA sets measures for El Niño farm impact


THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has started implementing measures to mitigate the effects of the looming El Niño phenomenon or dry spell on farm production, an official said on Monday.

The DA’s action plan as of May 2023 includes preparatory activities from prepositioning of seed reserves, planting materials, crop diversification to water management.

As of June 19, the latest outlook of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (Pagasa) said El Niño is characterized by unusually warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific.

Below-normal rains are expected, which can cause dry spells and droughts in several areas of the country.

DA Field Operations Service Director U-Nichols Manalo said that, “right now the rainfall is way below-normal, we are saying that this is a metrological forecast, but we at the DA are looking at the actual ground situation or assessment the condition there below.”

The DA identified at least 19 areas in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas and Rizal that are vulnerable to drought, 10 of which are tagged very high to high risk, while nine are under moderate risk.

According to Pagasa, Quezon province is less likely to be affected by El Niño since it will experience 56 percent rain at the onset of the dry spell.

The DA has already collaborated with the National Irrigation Administration IV-A to strengthen the regional El Niño action plan.

Redeliza Gruezo, DA’s chief of field operations for Calabarzon (Region IV-A), said the collaboration between DA and National Irrigation Administration (NIA) forms a critical component of the action plan, also seeks to support the national government’s Masagana rice program. “We expect more coordination with NIA to lessen the impact of El Niño on our farm outputs,” she added. 

Image credits: Suzanne June G. Perante