Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) forecasted that strong El Niño condition will remain in the tropical Pacific until January 2016 and may gradually weaken starting February 2016 (El Nino Advisory 10). This prolonged dry season has also affected the agriculture sector in Northern Mindanao.
The Department of Agriculture – Regional Field Office 10 (DA-RFO 10) in coordination with the local government units (LGUs) conducted a series of monitoring and validation of standing crops affected by the phenomenon to fittingly address the farmers’ needs.
Recently, initial reports were received by DA from the municipal agricultural offices through the provincial agricultures office throughout the region. In the province of Misamis Occidental, the municipality of Plaridel reported 317 hectares were affected by pests and diseases such as stem borer, cut worm and army worm, resulting to 30 to 40 percent yield loss.
In Lanao del Norte, the town of Salvador reported that there are 1,216 hectares of corn, 694 hectares of rice and 976 hectares of high value crops were affected by the dry season.
For Bukidnon, initial reports from the provincial agriculture’s office showed that there are 31,750 hectares corn, 4,317 hectares rice and 1,705 hectares cassava were affected from the 22 municipalities of the province.
Accordingly, the DA will validate the reported areas to assess the extent of damage of the crops and to identify appropriate assistance to be given to the affected farmers. The department has already prepared certified rice seeds and open pollinated varieties of corn seeds and vegetable seeds to be distributed to the affected farmers for them to plant when there is already enough supply of water to grow their crops.
On the other hand, the DA through the National Irrigation Administration has already sent out units of pump and engines to irrigators’ associations in Valencia City and Quezon, Bukidnon to augment the water needs of farmers by pumping water from the irrigation canals to the rice fields to ensure that their crops will survive during the dry season.
Livestock farmers are also requested to provide shed to their animals and to provide enough water for them to drink. They are further requested to prepare silage (atsarang sagot) while fresh grasses are still available and to resort to commercial feeding, if pasture and grasses become scarce in the area.
Currently, the department continues to monitor and validate more areas in the region which have been possibly affected by the dry season. Farmers are highly requested to be vigilant and to report immediately to the nearest municipal/city agriculturist if crop damage has been experienced in their respective municipality/town. While waiting for enough rainfall, farmers are also requested to do land preparation to make their areas ready for planting.
The DA also prepares for cloud seeding through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in case intense heat will continue that will cause damage to the standing crops in the major agricultural growing areas in the region. Nonetheless, the department in coordination with the LGUs will guarantee that flowering of fruits such as mangoes will not be affected should cloud seeding be conducted. Further, it is also an advantage if the two major sources of irrigation such as Lanao Lake and Pulangi River will be one of the targets in the cloud seeding, so as to increase water levels. # (MGBStaElena)
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