P35M fund for El Niño-hit Central Visayas areas

Published March 27, 2019, 7:21 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera & Richa Noriega

By Minerva Newman

CEBU CITY – The Department of Agriculture (DA) in Central Visayas is ready to mitigate the impact of El Nino to agriculture and fishery in the region with a standby fund allocation of P35 million, according to DA El Nino spokesperson regional technical director Joel Elumba.

“Agriculture sector is very vulnerable to all weather changes, that is why we are always prepared to address impacts of calamities such as the El Nino to agriculture,” Elumba said.

He said that as early as last year DA had briefed agriculture stakeholders on the effects of El Nino to crops, livestock, and irrigation.

Included in DA’s campaign are ways to optimize the use of non-vulnerable agricultural lands such as maximizing the use of water in areas near dams.

Another is the saving of production in vulnerable areas with existing crops. Elumba said it is necessary to save production by irrigating agricultural lands with crops that are yet to be harvested.  “Cloud seeding operations maybe implemented,” he said.

Cebu province has declared a state of calamity due to damage from El Nino. Elumba said the raw data from the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) were sent via SMS from the concerned Municipal Agriculture office and were consolidated by the OPA which was the basis for its declaration.

“These data are still subject for validation by the joint technical team of DA and OPA-Cebu. Once these are validated this will be disseminated to all concerned agencies including those concerned with farm insurance. These will also be the basis of DA’s action and implementation of mitigating measures,” Elumba told media during a forum Tuesday.

El Niño damage included 2.8 hectares of agricultural production in Balamban, 267 ha of corn and rice fields in Asturias, 50 ha of vegetables and corn products in Naga, 78 ha of farm produce in Mabinay, Negros Oriental and 20 ha of assorted crops in Siquijor.

“There are also reports of losses in the fishery sector with the Tilapia fingerlings.  All these data are currently being validated and we continue to extend the necessary assistance to the farmers in Central Visayas, Elumba said.