Created on Tuesday, 19 May 2015

The Department of Agriculture–7 (DA–7) is now undertaking precautionary measures to help mitigate the effects of El Niño on the agriculture sector. 

Joel Elumba, OIC–Regional Technical Director for Research and Regulatory and El Niño focal person of DA–7, said the DA will conduct  field validation and assessment on the latest submitted reports of the provinces of Bohol, Negros Oriental and Siquijor except Cebu. 

“The region’s El Niño task force  will be deployed in the provinces to monitor the reports submitted by the LGUs”, he said. 

In an interview conducted by Carlo Rivera of the Freeman, Elumba explained that the reduction of production due to El Niño will not affect the prices of basic commodities as Region 7 is the market hub of the other regions in the country. Rice production in Region 7 is only 30% while the 70% is imported from Luzon, Iloilo and Mindanao, aside from the buffer stocks of the National Food Authority. 

Field reports showed around 98% of the crops were already harvested last April. Most farmers have learned lessons from the 2009–2010 El Niño which lasted for about 5 to 7 months, according to Elumba. 

Based on the report from the National Irrigation Administration–7 (NIA–7), he also said water levels of the dams in Bohol have declined but not yet in the critical level. 

Farmers whose farms are rainfed and those at the tail-end of the service area of the irrigation system are advised to  delay planting of rice for the second cropping, but if farmers need to plant, they should plant drought tolerant varieties of rice  and other crops like water melon, cassava, mungbean and early maturing vegetables. 

 Elumba said the assistance of DA to mitigate El Niño are information campaigns and buffer stocking of drought tolerant varieties of rice seeds.         

The DA will continue to monitor farm areas and irrigation water levels and encourages submission of accurate field reports. (Lolita Maramara – RAFIS)

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