Cebu, Negros Oriental brace for El Niño

Published March 16, 2019, 6:32 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Minerva Newman

CEBU CITY—The Negros Oriental Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) and the Cebu City Agriculture Department (CCAD) are setting up measures to mitigate the possible effects of El Nino in Central Visayas.

A rice field shows an early sign of drought as some of its parts begin to dry up at Brgy. Lawang Cupang, San Antonio, Nueva Ecija, January 25, 2019. (FILE PHOTO / MARK BALMORES / MANILA BULLETIN)

CCAD officer-in-charge Apple Tribunalo said 70 percent of the water sources in 28 upland barangays of Cebu City have already been dwindling due to El Nino.

Tribunalo said CCAD was already in the process of purchasing water containers, drums, hoses, and power sprayers for the upland farmers to be able to get resource from other areas or towns below them, with a P10 to P12 million allotted budget for it.

The Cebu City government will also provide free crop and livestock insurance for the farmers to practice resiliency.  As of now, farmers are still harvesting their crops, and there has been no reported case of livestock infestation, Tribunalo added.

“If the dry spell would last until the second cropping season, there would be damage,” she added for now we are constantly monitoring the upland areas to know if the condition warrants a declaration of a state of calamity by the Sangguniang Panglungsod.

With the Negros Oriental Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services (Pagasa) Chief Neptune Catarata reporting in a provincial disaster risk reduction and management council meeting, a weak El Niño is expected to be in the tropical Pacific, and will likely affect the province with below normal rainfall conditions.

In May, Negros Oriental is expected to be one of the identified areas in the Visayas that will experience dry spell.

This means there will be three consecutive months of below-normal rainfall (21 percent to 60 percent reduction from average) or two months of consecutive way below normal rainfall (more than 60 percent reduction from average), PAGASA said.

With this report, Provincial Agriculturist Nestor Villaflores presented some mitigating measures to lessen the impact of the heat wave in the province.

Villaflores said it is expected that rice and corn production may decrease to 50 to 70 percent. He said the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) is intensifying its information dissemination to farmers and other affected stakeholders and the production of fruit and forest trees.

He added that the farmers will be provided with drought-tolerant varieties of rice while increasing the establishment of small-scale irrigation systems to farming communities including solar-powered irrigations systems and distribution of polyethylene hose to farmers.

“However, some of these mitigating activities may need more than P5 million budgetary requirements,” he said and effects of El Nino may lead to a 20-50 percent loss in crops production in Negros Oriental and or occurrence of plant pests and diseases.

A series of surveillance and trainings on pest management and control will be conducted for farmers and “Bantay Peste Brigade” volunteers.

Villaflores said his office has received reported damage of 78 hectares of rice at repining stage in seven barangays in the municipality of Mabinay, but this is yet to be validated by his office.