GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 Sept) – The Department of Agriculture in Region 12 has allotted an initial P44.2 million for various interventions against the foreseen onslaught of a strong El Niño Phenomenon beginning October.
Amalia Jayag-Datukan, DA Region 12 director, said Thursday the funds will be utilized for the implementation of initiatives that would help mitigate the adverse impact of the long dry spell or El Niño, which is seen to last until February next year.
She said the interventions are detailed in the regional El Niño mitigation plan, which was earlier crafted by the agency in coordination with local government units and other stakeholders.
“Our main goal is to minimize the expected negative impact of the dry spell to our agriculture or farming sector,” she said in a press conference.
Datukan said they have activated a technical working group (TWG) to lead the interventions against the El Niño within the region’s four provinces and five cities.
She said the TWG originally proposed for a P1.9-billion budget for their mitigation plan but was advised by the DA central office to instead utilize their savings for it.
Under the mitigation plan, DA-12 has set the release of 500 bags of assorted vegetable seeds worth P2.25 million; 5,000 bags of drought-resistant rice seeds worth P8 million; and 5,053 bags of corn seeds worth PP7.57 million.
It will position feed concentrates and silo forage seeds worth P5 million as well as drugs and biologics worth P5 million for its Agri-Pinoy livestock program.
“We also included in our plan the surveillance of pests and diseases, and the distribution of Metharhizium to combat them,” Datukan said.
The official said they have set aside some P9 million for the installation of 100 shallow tube wells and related machineries for open source water.
The agency will acquire around 10,000 bags of organic fertilizers worth P3 million to assist farmers who have already planted various crops.
For the cloud seeding, DA-12 has earmarked an initial P4.5 million that will be good for around 100 hours of sorties.
Based on a forecast released to DA-12 by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa), most parts of the region will experience prolonged dry episodes, dry spell and even drought due to El Niño.
It said the most vulnerable areas are the provinces of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat.
Drought is experienced when there is a below normal rainfall or 60 percent reduction from the average rainfall for three consecutive months; or way below normal rainfall or 21 to 60 percent rainfall reduction for five consecutive months.
DA-12 noted that nearly 9,400 hectares of palay and corn farmlands in the region are considered as highly vulnerable to the impact of the looming dry spell and drought in the region.
It will also affect livestock and farms planted to high-value commercial crops such as mango, rubber, banana and coffee.