GenSan eyes cloud-seeding as El Nino worsens

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/08 December) — The city government is preparing various interventions, including the conduct of cloud-seeding operations, in a bid to offset the worsening effects of the ongoing dry spell to the area’s standing agricultural crops.

Elsie Villanueva, assistant head of the City Agriculture Office, said Tuesday their monitoring showed that the city’s farm areas have started to dry up as a result of the dry spell, which is triggered by the El Nino Phenomenon.

She said around 12 hectares of banana plantation in Barangay San Jose and five hectares of corn crops in Barangay Mabuhay have been slowly wilting due to the dry weather condition and lack of irrigation.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera earlier said the local government has standby funds of around P10 million to counter the negative effects of the El Nino, which is expected to intensify until February next year.

The lined up interventions include relief assistance for the affected farmers and workers as well as the conduct of cloud-seeding operations in coordination with the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12.

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 El Niño Phenomenon.

Villanueva said they intensified their monitoring regarding the effects of the El Nino and are conducting weekly assessments on possible crop damages.

“We’re focusing on our short term crops like corn, palay and vegetables, especially those planted in areas that are not irrigated,” she said in an interview over TV Patrol Socsksargen.

Dr. Agripino Dacera, City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head, said they have also prepared some interventions to help mitigate the impact of the dry spell.

He said they are currently monitoring some barangays that were considered highly vulnerable to the effects of the extreme weather condition.

“We’re working now with the City Agriculture Office and the City Environment and Natural Resources Office as to the possible effects or impact of the extreme temperature to our crops as well as forests,” he said.

From March to May this year, the city’s farm areas were also affected by a prolonged dry spell that resulted to around P37 million in crop damages.

The calamity affected over 600 farmers and farm workers in half of the city’s 26 barangays. (MindaNews)