Agri dep’t orders action teams vs El Niño impact on rice fieldsBy Jeannette I. Andrade
Philippine Daily Inquirer
MANILA, Philippines–The Department of Agriculture has ordered all regional field units of its national rice program to create El Niño action teams ahead of the looming dry spell which could possibly affect the country starting October until the end of the year.
The Regional El Niño Action Teams (Renact) will be tapped to assess and initiate measures to mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon.
Assistant Secretary Dante Delima, DA national rice program coordinator, issued the directive based on the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration findings on the possible effects of the weather phenomenon to the country during the last quarter of the year.
Pagasa senior weather specialist Anthony Joseph Lucero reported on the impending dry spell during the 56th climate forum held on Sept. 7.
“As forecast, El Niño is seen to adversely affect large portions of Luzon, and other parts of the country with drought-like effects at a time when heavy rainfall is traditionally expected,” Delima noted in his order. “This phenomenon will undoubtedly affect rice production in our rain-fed areas, while critically placing water supply in our irrigation facilities at dangerous levels.”
The Bureau of Agricultural Statistics has previously projected rice production for the second half of the year at 9.92 million metric tons and indicated that based on farmers’ planting intentions, the October to December 2012 palay output is forecast at 6.36 million metric tons.
Based on Delima’s directive, the Renact will be led by the regional executive director and composed of regional rice coordinators, regional information officers and regional focal persons from concerned agencies of the DA.
Renact officials are tasked to coordinate closely with their respective local government units and regional risk reduction and management councils.
Each El Niño action team will then assess the rice situation in the region, obtain updates from the appropriate regional or national government agencies and map out activities or interventions to the impending impact of the dry spell and other climate change-related phenomena to rice production based on various possible scenarios.
“Mitigating measures should be identified to minimize the projected impact of El Niño on rice production, along with its budget requirements, monitoring and reporting mechanisms, and information management strategies in all stages should be in place,” Delima said.
He noted that in case the threat of the El Niño phenomenon neither materialize nor is properly addressed, the BAS projects a bigger production of palay by 282,000 metric tons in Central Luzon; 59,000 metric tons in the Ilocos Region; 91,000 metric tons in the Western Visayas; and 72,000 metric tons in Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, Palawan).