DA prepares for cloud seeding in Region 12 to counter dry spell

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/10 April) — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has started preparations for the conduct of cloud seeding activities in parts of Region 12 in a bid to counter the worsening effects of the continuing mild El Niño Phenomenon.

Zaldy Boloron, DA-Region 12 acting technical director for operations, said a team from the agency’s Bureau of Soil and Water Management (BSWM) central office arrived in the region earlier this week to set the initial arrangements for the cloud-seeding operations.

He said the team was specifically tasked to conduct “pre-cloud seeding assessment” and other necessary preparations.

“They will observe the area’s cloud formations, wind direction and other related factors that are essential for the conduct of the cloud-seeding,” he said.

Boloron said the BSWM will evaluate the condition of farm areas, especially the status of the standing crops.

He said the results of the assessment will serve as basis for the regional office in deciding as to when the cloud-seeding operations will be launched.

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.

The DA central office had identified cloud seeding as among the immediate counter measures to mitigate the impact of the Niño, which started in early March.

El Niño is a phenomenon caused by the abnormal warming of the central and eastern Pacific waters, generally manifests in a dry spell, or below normal rainfall, usually following wet conditions.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration had identified Region 12 as among the most vulnerable areas in terms of the adverse impact of the El Niño.

Boloron said the local governments of South Cotabato and North Cotabato earlier submitted requests to the DA central office for the conduct of cloud seeding operations due to the worsening effects of the dry spell on standing crops in their areas.

North Cotabato has already reported a crop damage of around P230.59 million as a result of the dry spell.

South Cotabato pegged the damage to crops in the area at P78.7 million, specifically affecting palay and corn farms.

This city and nearby Sarangani Province reported initial damages of P37 million and P20 million, respectively. (MindaNews)