By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental municipality Cauayan recently reported P6,110,780 worth of crop damage due to an ongoing dry spell caused by El Niño. According to AccuWeather, El Niño is a climate pattern that raises sea temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. Such a system can contribute to drought conditions due to reduced rainfall.
A report by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist revealed, from January to February of this year, losses to rice crops affected 143 hectares of farmland across seven of the town’s barangays.
253 farmers were impacted by the dry weather conditions.
Earlier, Department of Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol advised the province to prepare for El Niño, which he said is expected to wane towards the end of April or May in other parts of the country, but the forecast is not good for Negros.
“The dry spell in Negros Occidental, Mindoro, and Palawan will linger until late November,” he said.
He assured farmers the department is prepared to distribute funds.
The cabinet official added, at any given time, when the regions are ready to plant, they can request cloud seeding.
Meanwhile, Negros Occidental provincial agriculturist, Atty. Japhet Masculino said affected farmers who are insured will be provided assistance by the provincial government.
A statement released by the Department of Agriculture-Western Visayas earlier this week claimed weak El Niño conditions are expected throughout the rest of March.
“We are experiencing weak El Niño, particularly in southern Iloilo and Antique,” stated field operations division chief Rene B. Famoso.
However, he noted, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) offered an extended forecast.
“Based on the recent forecast of PAGASA, it may last up to June,” Famoso added./DGB, WDJ