DA 11 to prepare vegetable areas for EL Niño

TAGUM, Davao del Norte (MindaNews / 3 Sept) – The High Value Crops Program (HVCP) of the Department of Agriculture (DA) 11 is preparing areas that are least likely to be affected by El Niño for vegetable farming.

In an interview, Melani Provido, regional HVCP coordinator of DA 11, said they need to do this in order to maintain the supply of vegetables and stabilize prices.

Some of these areas initially identified by DA 11 are the upland Marilog District in Davao City and Maragusan, Compostela Valley where they have intensified interventions of the department.

She added that As early as last year, DA 11 already devised some mechanisms to cushion the impact of a long dry spell that will persist until August 2016.

DA 11 set aside some P8 million for the irrigation projects for the high value crops, most especially for the vegetables that are seen to be the most affected among other crops in the region. Provido said that the office will receive another budget for irrigation.

She added they are giving spring development program to vegetable farmers, meaning they tap the springs from the hinterlands and divert these to production areas.

“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 said.

Another project is the small farm reservoir that serves as a collection point of the water coming from the river.

She said that using DA interventions, areas that are not well-irrigated posted 20-percent increase in production volume.

The region’s major production areas such as Davao del Norte and Davao del Sur would be prioritized.

Provido said that when they see 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 for their survival. “After that, they can go back to their normal planting cycle,” she added.

Aside from giving free seeds, DA 11 also conducts trainings to farmers on how they can integrate vegetable farming in coconut plantations.

The early warning from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) helped the agency, the local government units (LGUs), and the farmers prepare for the worst, according to Provido.

“We cannot feel that much the impact of El Niño because PAG-ASA informed us ahead,” she said.