The Provincial Agriculturist Office (PAO) of Negros Oriental is eyeing to establish small farm reservoirs in five towns to counter the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
PAO said the reservoirs will be put up in the elevated areas in the towns of Ayungon, Jimalalud, Pamplona, Tayasan, and Sta. Catalina.
These are the towns that have been identified as rice-producing areas, Provincial Agriculturist Emmanuel Caduyac said at the Kapihan sa PIA forum.
Caduyac said they have submitted a funding proposal amounting to P40 million to the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) for the construction of the reservoirs.
The regional office of DSWD has earlier encouraged PAO to submit a funding request to be charged against the department’s climate change mitigation funds, according to Caduyac.
PAO is currently scouting for available agricultural lands where the reservoirs will be set up.
“Next week we will be validating these areas. We will be validating these areas next week. We will look for areas where we can set up the small farm reservoirs. We’re not looking only at lots spanning 500 square meters but if possible, half a hectare, so we can have ample or steady supply of water when severe drought comes,” Caduyac said.
Based on their proposal, farmers will also receive financial incentive under the cash for work component of the project.
For P400 a day, they will be tapped to help in the construction of the reservoirs.
Caduyac is hopeful that DSWD will approve their proposal.
Resiliency amid El Niño
To help farmers cope with the impact of the dry spell, PAO has already distributed 78 diesel-powered water pumps to farmers’ groups in the province.
PAO is also pushing farmers to adopt the alternate wetting and drying technology for rice planting.
According to PhilRice, the alternate wetting and drying technology “manages water for use in the rice farm by putting observation wells in the rice field and ensuring that required water levels are met.”
Caduyac said they are advocating this technology to maximize the use of water and irrigation in rice paddies.
PAO has also established small water impounding projects in farms, promoted drought-tolerant and early maturing varieties of rice and drought-tolerant crops, as well as organic agriculture to retain soil moisture.
The Provincial Veterinary Office (PVO) has also initiated interventions for farmers to keep their livestock safe from the ill effects of El Niño.
Provincial Veterinarian Dr. Melody Dulce Amor Vilan said they have administered vaccines, deworming medicines, vitamins and minerals to farm animals during their caravans and outreach missions in hinterland areas.
Our goal is to increase animal resistance to any disease caused by extreme heat, Vilan said.
Aside from this, the PVO is also conducting surveillance and monitoring activities among farm animals in the towns and cities.
Vilan urged farmers to cooperate with PVO staff during the blood collection drive among farm animals.
“I am appealing to our farmers to cooperate during the blood collection so that we can detect early if their animals are sick or not,” Vilan said in the same Kapihan program.
Pagasa senior meteorologist Engineer Daniel Caber said a strong El Niiño presence will persist in the country from January to March this year.
Although sea surface temperatures are seen to weaken by this quarter, the majority of the global models monitored by Pagasa still show that the weather phenomenon is likely to prevail until May 2024.
Caber said most parts of the country will experience below normal rainfall conditions in the coming months. (PIA-7 Negros Oriental)