NIA confident farm sector to withstand El Niño's impact

At a glance

  • The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) collaborates with government bodies for El Niño mitigation plans.

  • NIA Administrator Eduardo Guillen presents alternate wetting and drying technique for planting.

  • High-yielding rice inputs also proposed to aid farmers.

  • Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program available to support farmers.

  • Dam watch and solar pump irrigation constructions to minimize heat impact on rice production.

The National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is confident that the country's agriculture sector can weather the adverse effects of the El Niño phenomenon after it put in place its comprehensive national program ahead of the dry spell.

NIA Administrator Eduardo Guillen said that the agency, in collaboration with other government entities, had initiated their mitigation preparations a year prior to the onset of the dry spell.

“We have been preparing for El Niño since last year,” Guillen said. “NIA is not the only agency that is helping [the farmers], but the whole of government… We are just guiding them.”

Among the plans the administration has coordinated with local officials, Guillen shared that alternative wetting and drying technology, the Tulong Panghanapbuhay sa Ating Disadvantaged/Displaced Workers (TUPAD) program, and dam watch are some of the proactive measures to address the production of rice amid the weather phenomenon.

The alternate wetting and drying technique is used to manage irrigated lowland rice with less water to maintain continuous standing water in the crop field.

The TUPAD program, on the other hand, assists calamity-stuck victims, as NIA admin stated,  “The Department of Labor and Employment [DOLE] and the Department of Social Welfare and Development [DSWD] help provide the initiative to affected farmers.”

“Around 20 percent [of production] will be affected by El Niño, but if high-yielding crops are raised by 50 percent, rice production won’t go down,” he added.

NIA, along with local government units (LGUs) are also ensuring that the distribution of high-yielding input of rice will be distributed to farmers on time.

Furthermore, the irrigation admin shared that they have been observing dam levels in Central Luzon, as well as ensuring that other dam constructions within Visayas and Mindanao are well underway.

“We have funding for the solar pump irrigation project in Visayas, as well as other dams that will be constructed [soon],” he said. 

NIA also reassured that Magat Dam, one of the largest dams in the Philippines, has enough supply for irrigation activities.