8 Mindanao provinces, 2 cities listed as prone to El Niño

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/09 May)—The Department of Agriculture (DA) has placed eight provinces and two cities in Mindanao in the list of areas vulnerable to the El Niño or dry spell.

The DA classified the provinces of Misamis Oriental, Sarangani and South Cotabato and Zamboanga City as “highly vulnerable” to El Niño.

“Moderately vulnerable” to the dry spell are the provinces of Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon and Davao Oriental and Davao City, the list showed.

The list, covering a total of 44 provinces and two cities across the country, was cited by the DA’s Field Operations Service as highly and moderately vulnerable to the impacts of a prolonged dry
spell following the announcement of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) that an El Niño phenomenon may start affecting the Philippines in June and peak by the end of 2014.

The DA released the list “for purposes of monitoring and crafting of possible interventions.”

The department cited that the last prolonged drought recorded in the country was in 2009 to 2010.

The other provinces in this year’s “highly vulnerable” El Niño list are Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Cagayan, Aurora, Bataan, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Cavite, Rizal, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Capiz, Iloilo and Negros Occidental.

The rest of the areas listed under “moderately vulnerable” are Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, ountain Province, Isabela, Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Romblon, Sorsogon, Aklan, Antique, Bohol and Samar.

In a statement posted at www.da.gov.ph, Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said “the government is prepared to deal with the adverse impact of the El Niño phenomenon.”

The website cited that as early as last month, the DA has been implementing cloud seeding operations to induce rains in major watersheds and farming communities in Cagayan Valley that did not receive a rainfall for at least a week.

With a protracted dry spell now an increasing possibility, Alcala said that DA would intensify cloud
seeding operations to save harvestable crops and other produce from damage, in tandem with the DOST.

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, the DA said.

The DA cited also that through the National Irrigation Administration, they had been in touch with the irrigators’ associations nationwide to ensure efficient water allocation and use of the irrigation

The DA was reported to have created a new task force on El Niño to firm up strategies meant to cushion the impact of the impending extended dry spell on farming and fishery sectors. The task force is expected to come up with an action plan and its corresponding budgetary requirements.

Engr. Alson Quimba, Bukidnon provincial agriculturist, admitted that they have not yet received an El Niño advisory from the DA-10 regional office and the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration as of 3 p.m. Thursday.

Malaybalay City Mayor Ignacio W. Zubiri told MindaNews Wednesday afternoon that he will meet with the agriculture officials of the city next week to discuss the city’s action plan for the El Niño (Walter I.Balane/MindaNews)