DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/15 January) — The city government will allocate P60 million for the procurement of new equipment and repair of agricultural infrastructures in a bid to cushion the impact of El Nino that was projected to last until June this year, an official said.
Speaking in Thursday’s iSpeak Forum, City Agriculturist Office head Roselio Tabay said the budget will come from the city’s calamity fund to purchase mobile irrigation facilities, cloud seeding, and repair of dams.
The proposed mitigation plan was contained in the technical plan that CAO submitted sometime in April or May 2015 to the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and to the Department of Agriculture.
Tabay said no report of damages on agriculture has so far been noted.
He said they have prepared short-terms programs, along with DA11, for the farmers who will be affected by the long dry spell, which is expected to peak by the second quarter.
He added the CAO will assess the extent of the damage so that they will know how much to spend on rehabilitation.
According to the Davao City El Niño Contingency Plan, 73,086 hectares of the 244,000 hectares of the city’s total land area has been classified as agricultural and 168.36 hectares is classified as agro-industrial.
Agricultural products include rice, corn, fruits, industrial crops, root crops and livestock.
“To date, the City of Davao is experiencing mild El Niño phenomenon which started in the last week of December 2014 and still ongoing wherein most of the cash crops of our farmers are damaged, either totally and/or partially,” the document says.
Among the fruit trees that will be affected are durian, lanzones and rambutan.
The DA 11’s High Value Crops Program (HVCP) wass preparing areas that are least likely to be affected by El Niño for vegetable farming.
Melani Provido, regional HVCP coordinator of the DA 11, said the move was needed to maintain the supply of vegetables and stabilize prices.
The areas initially identified by DA 11 are the upland Marilog District in Davao City and Maragusan, Compostela Valley where they have intensified the interventions of the department.
In 2014, she said DA 11 already put in place some mechanisms to cushion the impact of a long dry spell, with P8 million budget for irrigation projects for the high value crops.
DA 11 is implementing a spring development program for vegetable farmers, using spring sources in the hinterlands.
“We will tap the spring in the mountains using a big tube that will bring water to the water box within the production areas,” Provido added.
Another project is the small farm reservoir that impounds water from the river, she said.
She noted that production in areas that are not well-irrigated has increased by 20 due to DA’s interventions.
The region’s major production areas such as Davao Del Norte and Davao del Sur would be prioritized.
Provido said that for areas that are already severely affected by El Niño, they would suggest to farmers to shift to drought-resistant crops such as mongo and cassava.
“They should plant vegetables that can survive dry spell just to survive. After that, they can go back to their normal planting cycle,” she said.
She cited that the early warning from the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration helped the agency, the local government units and the farmers prepare for the worst.
“We cannot feel that much the impact of El Niño because PAG-ASA informed us ahead,” she said. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)