DA to farmers: Use rainy season to fight El Niño
MANILA, Philippines – Take advantage of the rainy season by planting early and storing rainwater, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala urged Filipino farmers on Tuesday, June 23.
That day, state weather bureau PAGASA announced the beginning of the rainy season in some parts of the Philippines. The season is expected to last until September.
“If you start planting now, by July, when it is expected to rain the most, your rice crops would have passed its flowering stage, thus there is a better chance that harvests will be maximized,” Alcala said at an event in Bacolod City.
The rainy days ahead may serve as a temporary reprieve for farmers while the country is still experiencing El Niño, or a prolonged period of below-normal rainfall.
The El Niño is expected to intensify into a moderate to strong El Niño during the second half of the year, says PAGASA.
As of May, crop damages due to the dry spell amounted to P2.19 billion ($49.13 million).
Key crops in the Philippines, like rice, are highly dependent on stable water supply to thrive.
Around 80% of cultivated land in the country depends on rain to water its crops, according to the Bureau of Agricultural Research. Crops from rain-fed farmland supplies 40% of total food production.
Aside from planting early, Alcala also advised farmers to collect rainwater and store it for the dry days ahead.
Farmers can build water ponds or set up water-collecting drums. The Department of Agriculture is also ready to install water pumps and solar water pumps in communities to boost their water supply, he said.
The agency has also set aside a budget for more cloud-seeding operations. Such operations artificially induce rain by spreading dry ice or silver iodide aerosols over the upper portion of clouds.
“We are ready to schedule cloud seeding operations in case there is a need to induce rains during long dry seasons,” said Alcala.
The DA has requested for P939 million ($20.9 million) from the Department of Budget and Management to fund its El Niño Task Force formed in February to help farmers cope with the shortage of rain. – Rappler.com