TACLOBAN CITY, April 13 (PNA) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) is now taking measures to mitigate the impact of a mild El Niño phenomenon in more than 81,000 hectares of rain fed rice plantations in Eastern Visayas.
DA Regional Executive Director Bernadette F. San Juan said the impact of dry season is only minimal, but farmers have been advised to be cautious.
“We urge all farmers in Eastern Visayas to prepare and become observant as the nation is currently experiencing mild El Niño. We have been relaying climate data to farmers so they can decide whether to plant or postpone their planting,” San Juan told PNA.
In the long term, the farm department experiments the “adaptability of drought resistant rice varieties in the region.” Farmers are also encouraged to try other crops that would require less water.
Rice farmers in Leyte are identified as highly vulnerable to the effects of El Niño. The provinces of Northern Samar and Samar areas are moderately susceptible while Biliran and Eastern Samar are slightly at risk, according to DA.
Earlier, the farm department has listed more than 81,000 hectares of rain fed rice farms in Eastern Visayas as highly vulnerable to impacts of El Niño phenomenon.
Of the 81,096 hectares of areas without irrigation supply, 18,699 are in Leyte, 1,158 hectares in Southern Leyte, 18,019 hectares in Samar, 15,235 hectares in Eastern Samar, and 27,984 hectares in Northern Samar.
Tagged as the top 10 towns with biggest non-irrigated areas were Las Navas in Northern Samar (4,402 hectares), Dolores in Eastern Samar (4,300 hectares), Laoang in Northern Samar (4,073 hectares), Basey in Samar (3,507 hectares), Palapag in Northern Samar (3,466 hectares).
Also listed were Catubig, Northern Samar (3,313 hecatres), Catarman in Northern Samar (2,884 hectares), Calbayog City in Samar (2,001 hectares), Bobon in Northern Samar (1,992 hectares), and Sta. Rita in Samar (1,964 hectares).
To lessen the destructive effect of dry season, the DA regional office here will also fast track the completion of Small Scale Irrigation Projects (SSIPs) launched in 2014.
The initiative promotes the application of water saving techniques. In addition, rice ratooning is being pushed as an appropriate technology to attain extra yield from standing rice crops of high quality seeds.
According to the Bureau of Agricultural Research, rice ratooning is an indigenous practice in rice farming that induces the formation of shoots or ratoons from the mother crop after the previous growth has been cut back. (PNA)
FPV/SARWELL Q. MENIANO