The Department of Agriculture announced that modern farming and fishery technologies are being introduced as part of the government’s mitigation and adaptation measures to cushion the impact of the ongoing long dry spell.
“We are putting in place policy initiatives, water management and conservation measures, as well as modern and innovative farming and fishery technologies to somehow soften the effects of this dry weather,” said Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala.
Secretary Alcala said government interventions include introducing to farmers drought tolerant rice varieties like the “green super rice” and the planting of other crops such as sorghum, cassava and sweet potato), along with the use of waver saving technology in rice production (controlled irrigation or alternative wetting drying).
For these interventions, the Department will be needing an initial budget of P1.61 billion, P764.3 million of which is readily available while the remaining P842.6 is being sourced with the Department of Budget and Management.
More than a third of the financial requirement – at P583.3 million – has been proposed for the provision of seeds, planting materials and other production inputs to affected farmers. The second biggest allocation – at P339.83 million -- has been proposed for the establishment of small-scale irrigation facilities, including small water impounding projects, solar pumps, and shallow tube well units.
In fact, the Department has proactively responded to the threats of a long dry spell, ahead of the announcement from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) that an El Niño phenomenon may start affecting the Philippines in June and peak by end-2014. As early as March, the DA, through the Bureau of Soils and Water Management has carried out cloud seeding operations to induce rainfall in major watersheds and farming communities.
“This is to ensure water reserves across the nation, specifically in agricultural areas and provinces,” Alcala said.
This month, cloudseeding operations will be undertaken in Bulacan, Nueva Vizcaya and Isabela to increase water level in Angat and Magat dams.
Also under water management schemes, the DA has initiated the repair and rehabilitation of damaged irrigation dams and canals as well as the construction of additional shallow tube wells, small water impounding projects, diversion dams and other small-scale irrigation projects.
Other defense strategies include the buffer stocking of seeds and early planting of crops. As such, DA is providing access to early maturing seeds of hybrid corn and various vegetables.
In line with crops production, the Department is campaigning for the production of drought tolerant rice varieties, sorghum, sweet pepper, ubi, adlai, alugbati, cassava, and sweet potato among others, and promoting more efficient soil supplementation and fertilization strategies.
“We are calling on all farmers to utilize water saving technologies in rice production such as controlled irrigation,” Alcala said. “We also urge them to implement crop-shifting and closely monitor incidence of pests and diseases,” he added.
Aside from these, the government has installed efficient and innovative agri-fishery technologies such as the construction of dike peripheral, deepening of fishponds to promote tidal intrusion, and the use of aqua species tolerant to saline water.
Following the PAGASA report on the significant increase of the sea surface temperature anomaly from 0.2°C to 0.4°C from April 21 to April 28, the DA has engaged the cooperation of the local government units and the civil society to effectively implement the adaptation programs for an anticipated El Niño phenomenon.
Apart from this, DA has reactivated the El Niño Task Force and strengthened capabilities of agencies tasked to provide direct interventions. ### (oda_rodriguez/AFID)