DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 23 March) — Crop damage due to El Niño in five municipalities of Davao del Sur has reached P161.2 million as of March 20, 2019, according to the damage assessment report of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 11 or the Davao region.
Roy Jose Pascua, focal person for the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of DA-11, told Kapihan sa Philippine Information Agency (PIA) on Friday that the rice and corn farmers in Bansalan, Matanao, Hagonoy, Kiblawan, and Magsaysay in Davao del Sur have already felt the impact of the onset of the El Niño.
Pascua said the province reported a total of 3,582.7 hectares of rice partially damaged and 75 hectares totally damaged, and a total of 310.7 hectares of corn partially damaged and 10.5 hectares totally damaged as of March 20.
The entire province of Davao Del Sur has been placed under a state of calamity due to El Niño, he said, even as the forecast from the state weather bureau – Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) — says El Niño would peak from April to June. He said this is because the province borders Region 12 (South Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, North Cotabato and the cities therein), where the onset of El Niño was felt as early as November 2018.
Pascua said DA-Davao is bracing for the effect of the El Niño, including cloud seeding and deployment of open source pumps for irrigation in the province, to cushion the impact of El Niño, as “any changes in temperature will surely affect the production of the agricultural sector.”
Cloud seeing, he said, has been scheduled tentatively from March 25 to May 25 to save the remaining half of the 13,000 hectares of rice farms in the province that have yet to be harvested, as well as high-value crops like mango, coffee, cacao, and other fruit trees in the upland areas in the province.
He said Tropical Depression Chedeng, which had weakened into a low pressure area when it made landfall in Malita, Davao Occidental last Tuesday, had somewhat helped to increase the discharge levels of the dams in the province, bringing water to the dried up areas in the province.
Pascua said DA-Davao is closely monitoring other parts of the region for the possible impact of El Niño. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)