Photo: Wikimedia Commons
To date, the DA-Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) has already completed 28 cloud-seeding trips in drought-affected municipalities in Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and other areas in Cagayan Valley. In Isabela, these sorties prevented damage on some 4,155 hectares of corn farms, of which 3,490 hectares are in reproductive stage and 665 hectares in the vegetative, agriculture officials explained. Each flying hour costs around P43,000, including expense on salt being dispersed above clouds suitable for seeding.
Aside from cloud seeding sorties, the Department has also started to distribute shallow tube wells and drought-tolerant crop varieties to help farmers in areas most affected by the drought. For rice, it includes PSB Rc14 popularly known as “Rio Grande,” a rainfed lowland rice variety which matures in 116 days with a maximum yield of 6.1 tons per hectare. Meanwhile, farmers who don’t intend to plant rice are being advised to consider drought-resistant crops such as sweet pepper, ubi, alugbati, mungbean, cassava, and sweet potato.
Several water-saving technologies are also available. For instance, in rice, the Philippine Rice Research Institute promotes controlled irrigation or alternate wetting and drying (AWD) technology. It also minimizes greenhouse gas emissions in paddy fields. PhilRice has also been teaching farmers nationwide to adopt Palayamanan Plus, a highly integrated and diversified system of farming where rice is grown with other crops and livestock, among others. With diversified sources of food and income, farmers are able to enhance their resilience to adverse weather conditions such as a prolonged drought.
DA through the National Irrigation Administration has been in touch with irrigators associations nationwide to ensure efficient water allocation and use in irrigation systems.
Undersecretary Emerson U. Palad of the DA-Field Operations Service (DA-FOS) said that a newly formed task force on El Niño will meet on Wednesday to firm up strategies meant to cushion the impact of the impending extended dry spell on farming and fishery sectors. The task force, composed of Usec. Palad as head, with members that include heads of key attached bureaus and agencies and national directorate programs for rice, corn, livestock, fisheries, and high value crops, is expected to come up with an action plan and its corresponding budgetary requirements.
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