GenSan eyes cloud-seeding as dry spell worsens

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/06 March) — The city government is studying various measures, including the conduct of cloud-seeding operations, to counter and mitigate the impact on an ongoing dry spell that already dried up farmlands in several villages in the area.

Merlinda Donasco, City Agriculture Office (CAO) head, said Friday at least 15 barangays were already affected by the onset of unusually intense dry weather and the lack of rains in the city since January.

She said such condition caused farmlands to dry up and the area’s irrigation supplies to drop significantly.

“There are farm areas that are now dried up and there some that still have remaining standing crops but are already severely water-stressed,” she said in an interview over Brigada News TV.

Donasco said the soil composition in most parts of the city that is mainly of the sandy loam type contributed to the problem.

She said water retention in sandy loam soil is very low, making the survival of planted crops very difficult during extreme dry periods.

Citing their initial assessment, she said the areas that were so far hit hardest by the dry spell are barangays Tinagacan, Mabuhay, Upper Labay, Batomelong and San Isidro.

She said these barangays have reported significant crop damages, specifically for corn, banana and coconut.

In Tinagacan, which was inspected by CAO personnel on Thursday, barangay chair Dagadas Panayaman said the dry spell has practically dried up farmlands in its 10 puroks.

He said it has affected an estimated 500 hectares of coconut, corn and banana plantation areas.

“The latest cropping by most of our farmers were failures. They were not able to recover even their capital during harvest,” he said.

Donasco said they are currently making rounds of the areas affected by the dry spell to assess and validate its impact to crops and local farmers.

She said they results of the assessment will serve as basis for the interventions that they will later recommend to City Mayor Ronnel Rivera to mitigate the situation.

“We will elevate this to the mayor and other concerned agencies for proper planning and setting of counter-measures as well as the provision of necessary assistance to the affected farmers,” she said.

The official said among the counter-measures that the city could undertake is cloud-seeding to induce rains in the area.

Cloud-seeding is the process of manually spreading either dry ice or salt into the upper part of the clouds to help stimulate the precipitation process and form rain.

Donasco said the city government has a standing allotment of P1 million for the conduct of cloud-seeding operations if needed later on. (MindaNews)