ILOILO CITY, April 27 (PNA) –- Damages due to El Niño phenomenon in Western Visayas has reached P1.5 billion, said the Department of Agriculture (DA) here.
DA Regional Technical Director for Operations Engr. Remelyn Recoter reported that as of April, the value of losses in the agriculture sector, including rice, corn, poultry and livestock surpassed the P1 billion mark.
Recoter said that during the El Nino Task Force meeting held recently, the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics has validated the amount after sending their teams all over the damaged areas and reports from provincial and municipal agriculture offices.
The DA Central office has received its BAS-validated report and that they are awaiting for further funding releases, said Recoter.
She added that the damages are lower than the expected projection and that the region is able to cope well with the effects of El Niño.
Meanwhile, the DA and its attached agencies are intensifying its strategies to address the effects of the weather anomaly. These include the distribution of vegetable seeds, cloud-seeding, emergency employment, and livelihood assistance.
Likewise, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) earmarked P10-million for its El Nino fund to procure rice. The rice will be distributed to benficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) in Aklan, Antique, and Iloilo.
The DSWD said that rice assistance will be distributed through the Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC).
On the other hand, the Department of Labor and Employment continues its emergency employment program for El Niño-affected farmers. It is currently finalizing the community-based bamboo nursery and cutting, transplanting project in Pavia, Iloilo.
Farmers and their dependents will be the first to avail of the program which was specifically created during the El Niño season.
Cloud Seeding In Panay Starts
The much awaited cloud seeding operations that will induce rains over Panay Island, particularly in the province of Iloilo, is set to start Wednesday, April 28.
DA regional executive director Larry Nacionales said that cloud seeding priority would be conducted in areas greatly affected by the El Nino phenomenon. These are the areas around the watershed in Maasin, Iloilo to augment the water supply in the Tigum and Aganan rivers, main sources of the Metro Iloilo Water District.
Nacionales said the agency has allotted P2.8 million for the operation that would use vacuum salt in seeding into the clouds by a plane from Cebu.
Watermelon and mango farmers will not be affected anymore by the operations since most have already harvested their fruits during the peak season in early April, added Nacionales.
The cloud seeding operations is conducted in 45 days as the Pagasa reported the El Niño will be until June this year.
The agriculture official said priority was given to the province of Iloilo due to more damages caused by the phenomenon. Of all provinces in the region, Iloilo is widely hit with 21,000 hectares of ricelands damaged out of the 26,000 hectares damaged in Western Visayas.
The region has 309,000 hectares planted to rice and Iloilo has a share of 70,000 hectares planted to rice during the regular cropping season.
Japan Turns Over Fertilizer To Iloilo Farmers
The 8th Non-Project Grant Assistance of Japan of ammonium sulphate fertilizers to Ilonggo farmers arrived Tuesday at the Loboc International Port.
The fertilizer is about 7,184 metric tons or equivalent to 143,000 bags of ammonium sulphate.
Agriculture regional director Larry Nacionales said the shipment is part of the 42,000 metric tons bilateral agreement between the Philippines and Japan as a continuing soft grant to the Filipino people.
The turn-over of fertilizer shipment was led by Japanese Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission Motohito Kato and accepted by Dr. Ma. Luz Enriquez of the National Agriculture and Fishery Council (NAFC), Daniel Oñate of Soiltech Agricultural Products and Eduardo Alcazarin of Palacatian Irrigators Association.
Minister Kato said the fertilizers are commodity assistance to the Filipinos with the Department of Finance as lead agency. The fertilizers were bidded out to suppliers and the funds realized will finance environmental, agricultural, education and health projects in Iloilo.
Nacionales said this is the second time that Iloilo is a recipient of the fertilizer shipment worth P354 million as grant assistance from Japan. The first shipment was delivered last year.
Water Pumps To Ease Lack of Water
Farmers in Western Visayas can provide water to their drought-stricken farms using the water pumps from the DA.
DA Regional Executive Director and El Nino Task Force chair Larry P. Nacionales announced during the El Nino Task Force meeting held April 26 in Iloilo City.
DA currently has 100 units of the water pumps ready for distribution to farmers.
Nacionales said the equipments will be distributed through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) which is responsible for irrigation development in the country. The water pumps were procured by the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) for DA.
Nacionales said that 12 units of water pumps will be for the use of farmers who are engaged in the production of high-value cash crops while 18 units will be used for drip irrigation purposes.
DA advised farmers to tap big rivers and streams or dig to pump and draw out underground water using the water pumps.
The pumps were among the interventions and strategies adopted by DA to mitigate the adverse effects of the El Nino phenomenon on agriculture, farmers and farm workers, and their families.
DA has reported that it has allocated P400 million for the procurement of water pumps and installation of shallow tube wells in El Nino-hit farming communities as part of its ongoing efforts to help small farmers offset production losses due to the prolonged dry spell.
DA has already used P120 million of the amount to procure water pumps and is still seeking approval from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to realign another P300 million for shallow tube well projects. (PNA) /MP