DA starts cloud seeding in Davao del Sur

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 13 April) — Cloud seeding activities have started in the province of Davao del Sur and North Cotabato, Soccsksargen since April 9 to cushion the effect of the dry spell on high-value crops, Jose D. Pascua, focal person for the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management of the Department of Agriculture (DA)-11, said on Saturday.

Pascua said in a telephone interview that an aircraft from the Philippines Airforce (PAF) had been deployed to undertake the cloud seeding activities on April 9 to 11, upon the request of the local government units to save the remaining high-value crops.

He said the cloud seeding covered areas in Matanao, Magsaysay, and Digos City in Davao del Sur. He added that they have also coordinated with DA-Soccsksargen to cover portions of North Cotabato.

He said the cloud seeding targeted rice and corn fields, and other high value crops such as corn, cacao, coffee, and mango.

The aircraft from PAF had five sorties before it left for Mactan, Cebu on Friday for periodic maintenance, according to Pascua.

He claimed rain had been reported by the LGUs shortly after the cloud seeding activities.

After spotting a seedable cloud, he said rain normally occurs 30 minutes after every activity.

He said the cloud seeding would resume on Monday in Digos City.

The DA is also waiting  for confirmation from the provincial agriculturist of Compostela Valley province for similar activity.

“Hinihingi ko pa ang location. Hopefully by Monday meron ng coordination (I’m still asking for the location. Hopefully, by Monday, there will be coordination),” Pascua said.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) reported on March 22 that at least 17 provinces in Mindanao will be hit by a dry spell while 11 provinces by drought beginning end of April 2019. Mindanao has 27 provinces.

The dry spell would hit Bukidnon, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao City, Davao del Norte, Davao del Sur, Davao Occidental, Davao Oriental, North Cotabato, Saranga Agusan Del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Basilan, and Lanao del Sur.

The provinces affected by drought are Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Misamis Occidental, South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, Maguindanao, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi.

According to PAGASA, dry spell occurs when there are three consecutive months of below normal (21%-60% reduction from average) rainfall conditions or two consecutive months of way below normal (more than 60% reduction from average) rainfall conditions while drought when there are three consecutive months of way below normal (60% reduction from average)  or five consecutive months of below normal (21%-60% reduction from average) rainfall condition. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)