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Friday, May 24, 2024

Gov’t agencies take steps to mitigate El Niño effects

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THE Department of Agriculture (DA) will distribute drought resilient vegetable and high-value crops seeds in Western Visayas and the Ilocos Regions as well as  the Zamboanga Peninsula to help farmers recover from the damage and losses due to the dry spell stoked by El Niño. 

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has heightened its preparations the mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.

In collaboration with relevant agencies such as the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (DOST-PAGASA) and the Department of National Defense-Philippine Air Force (DND-PAF), the DA is set to initiate cloud-seeding operations to ease water shortage in Region II. 

Promotion of drought-resistant crops and pest-control efforts are also underway to assist farmers in areas suffering from low rainfall levels. 

The latest El Niño bulletin estimated damage and losses to crops in the Ilocos Region, MIMAROPA, Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula at P357.4 million, with 7,668 farmers affected. 

Potential production losses from 6,523 hectares affected by the drought are estimated at 11,480 metric tons (MT) for palay, 2,897 MT for corn, and 225 MT for high value crops.

Affected rice farms of 5,011 hectares is about 0.52 percent of the total target area planted, while an estimated production loss of 11,480 MT is nearly 0.12 percent of the target dry cropping season output for 2024. 

The dry has also impacted 1,263 hectares of standing corn crops or 0.11 percent of the total target area planted, while the production loss of 2,897 MT is 0.06 percent of target production for the 2024 dry cropping season. 

The DA continuously adopts the alternate wetting-and-drying method that has reduced water consumption in rice fields while the use of solar-powered irrigation systems is also being considered.

The DA is also assessing how shallow tube wells might help increase water supply in rain-fed areas.

DA regional field offices’ continue to issue advisories encouraging farmers to adopt synchronous planting to avoid the occurrence of pests and diseases due to delayed planting, as well as using affected crops as forage to feed livestock.  

Farmers affected by El Niño will be diverted to the DSWD and the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) for other forms of assistance, including financial support. 

The DSWD signed a  memorandum of understanding (MOU) with national government agencies and local governments to officially launch Project LAWA (Local Adaptation to Water Access) and Breaking Insufficiency through Nutritious Harvest for the Impoverished (BINHI) through cash-for-training and -work.

DSWD Secretary Rex Gachalian said the project aims to strengthen the adaptive capabilities of the impoverished and vulnerable families in addressing the challenges during periods of severe drought conditions.

It specifically focuses on mitigating the impact of food insecurity and water scarcity brought about by the El Niño.

The MOU will pave the way towards a stronger partnership of the DSWD, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the DA, the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples (NCIP), and the United Nations World Food Programme (UN-WFP) in implementing and monitoring Project LAWA at BINHI in selected localities affected by El Niño.

Gatchalian, in his message delivered by Undersecretary for Disaster Response Management Group (DRMG) Diana Rose Cajipe, said the implementation of Project LAWA and BINHI was in line with the Philippine Development Plan 2023-2028 of the Marcos administration.

He said the new sealed partnership will ensure that vulnerable sectors will be prioritized during period of water scarcity.

“Ang (The) Memorandum of Understanding na ating pinirmahan ay sumisimbolo sa ating pagkakaisa sa pamamahagi ng (that we signed is a symbol of our unity in delivering) social protection services sa tunay na mga nangangailangan nating mga kababayan, lalong lalo na sa mga katutubo, magsasaka, mangingisda, at iba pang sektor na posibleng maapektuhan ng panahon ng tagtuyot (to those who really need help especially the tribesmen, farmers, fishermen and other sectors that may be affected by the drought),” Gachalian said in his message.

Projects Lawa and Binhi will be implemented in around 300 cities and municipalities in 58 provinces.

A total of 10 Project LAWA at BINHI projects are expected to be conducted in each of the target localities with 50 partner-beneficiaries who will participate in cash-for-training (CFT) and cash-for-work (CFW), under the DSWD’s Risk Resiliency Program.

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