Bicolano farmers suffer huge losses from El Niño

LEGAZPI CITY—Bicol’s agricultural lands are already feeling the heat of El Niño, with some P58-million in crops already lost due to the weather phenomenon, Office of Civil Defense Bicol Regional Director Raffy Alejandro announced.

Bicolana rice farmer Norma Nieto is among those who are hoping that the hybrid rice variety she plants will withstand the effects of El Niño. (Photo via DA)
Speaking before members of the press last Friday, Alejandro said they received information from the Department of Agriculture (DA) that low crop yields are being recorded in the region.

Most intensely affected are agricultural lands in Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Masbate, he added.

Alejandro alerted local government units and agencies to prepare for the dry spell’s impact,

Last month, the DA regional office already issued a warning that below normal rainfall is expected this month, and could last until the early part of 2016.

To combat the effects of El Niño, Regional Director Abelardo Bragas recommended planting drought-resistant rice varieties in upland and rainfed areas, along with legumes like cowpea, winged bean and mung bean, and other crops that can tolerate below-normal rainfall condition.

El Niño, according to PAGASA, is characterized by unusually warm ocean surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific (CEEP).

Moderate El Niño conditions currently continue to persist across the equatorial Pacific Ocean, PAGASA’s latest climate advisory indicates. Leading climate models suggest that it may intensify from moderate to strong El Niño in the coming months.

In Bicol, Camarines Norte is affected by a dry spell and below normal rainfall. The same province is also likely to experience drought.

Catanduanes is likewise affected by a dry spell, which is described as three consecutive months of below normal (21%-60% reduction from average) rainfall conditions or two consecutive months of way below normal (more than 60% reduction from average) rainfall conditions.

The state weather bureau also observed that Albay had near to above normal rainfall in July.
PAGASA said it will continue to closely monitor the ongoing El Niño condition.—BICOLSTANDARD.COM