Agri dep’t not worried about ‘El Niño’ for nowBy DJ Yap
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines—The Department of Agriculture is not too concerned about the high likelihood of El Niño developing in the last quarter, saying the dry spell may even benefit certain crops, especially mangoes.
“I will not say it will be a great advantage but that will depend on the duration of the dry spell. [Our initial assessment] is there are crops that will benefit,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala told a press briefing on Thursday.
He said a dry spell brought on by the El Niño phenomenon, or the warming of Pacific waters, would be favorable to mango farmers.
“We have not been able to take advantage of our mangoes for the past two years because the rainy season went on much longer,” Alcala said.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration has said there is a strong possibility of El Niño developing toward the later months of 2012. In the Philippines, El Niño is usually preceded by wet conditions, followed by a dry spell.
According to news reports, Australia’s weather bureau sees clear signs El Niño is developing in the Pacific, while its Japanese counterpart believes the phenomenon is already under way, although it is believed to be a mild case.
The country suffered its worst El Niño period in 1997-1998, when more than P8 billion worth of crops was destroyed. In 1982-1983, it left P700 million worth of damage to rice and corn, and in 1992-1993, agricultural losses reached more than P4 billion.