DA prepares as possible El Niño looms this year

MANILA — The Department of Agriculture (DA) considers the possible occurrence of another dry spell this year as a threat to the country’s agriculture.

This is based on initial information gathered by the DA from an international meteorological agency.

PAGASA is yet to confirm in May if the country will have another El Niño this year.

“Yes we are already preparing. In fact, we are studying the reading of an Australian weather bureau. We will ask for data with the US atmospheric bureau and of course our own PAGASA,” said DA Secretary Emmanuel Piñol.

He also said that the dry spell would primarily affect crops and the fish supply.

As part of the preparation, the DA has allotted P165 million for small water-impounding systems that farmers can use for water storage.

The said amount also covers the costs for the government’s cloud seeding operation.

The NDRRMC estimates that the previous dry spell, which occurred from April 2015 to July 2016, had caused P12.8-billion worth of agricultural damages in the country.

“We will have to identify the areas that might be affected and the months the dry spell will occur. Number two we have asked NIA to release irrigation water ahead of schedule. So that if el Niño occurs in September, October, we will not get affected much,” said Piñol.

Sec. Piñol stressed that early preparation would help avoid turmoil that may arise from food shortage and avert incidents such as the violent protest in Kidapawan City in April 2016 that resulted in the death of three demonstrators who died of gunshot wounds when police tried to stop the protesters. — Rey Pelayo | UNTV News & Rescue

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