SouthCot pushes for cloud seeding operations to save corn and rice crops

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 24 December) — The provincial government of South Cotabato is pushing for immediate cloud seeding operations to save its corn and rice crops.

South Cotabato Gov. Daisy Avance-Fuentes on Wednesday said they submitted a request to the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 to start cloud seeding as soon as possible as their monitoring shows thousands of hectares of standing corn crops in parts of the province have showed signs of advanced wilting due to lack of rain and irrigation supply.

Although the province experienced some rains last week due to the entry of typhoons Nona and Onyok, they were not enough to relieve the crops of the effects of the dry spell, triggered by an ongoing El Nino phenomenon.

“There are areas that did not experience any rain since last month and the effects of the dry spell on the crops are now quite severe,” she said.

Fuentes said that based on an assessment made by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPAG), majority of the province’s corn and rice areas need more rains in the coming weeks to sustain the standing crops until their harvestable stage.

“We’ve been coordinating with the the DA to fast track the release of around P1.5 million from its El Nino funds so we can start with the cloud seeding,” she said.

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

DA-12 allotted an initial P44 million for various interventions to counter the effects of the El Nino, which has been predicted to last until the second quarter of 2016.

The interventions include relief assistance for the affected farmers and workers as well as the conduct of cloud seeding operations in coordination with DA central office’s Bureau of Soils and Water Management.

In October, the provincial government reactivated the province’s El Nino task force to enhance its mitigation efforts.

The task force is headed by the Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office and involves various local and national government agencies.

The OPAG had earlier crafted mitigation plan for the El Nino that required a funding of around P7.8 million.

The plan seeks to ensure accessible and affordable food supplies in the province during the onslaught of the El Nino.

It also aims to sustain the livelihood of local farmers and prevent the occurrence of farm infestations, through the purchase of certified palay seeds, hybrid corn seeds, assorted vegetable seeds, rodenticides, wheat for the bio-control laboratory and rice for the implementation of the food-for-work program. (MindaNews)