El Niño ruins P800-M crops in Mindanao
The weak El Niño currently causing various crises nationwide has already caused more than P800 million in damage to agriculture in Mindanao alone.
In its latest situation update on the El Niño effects dated March 14, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said an an estimated P864.349 million worth of damage to agriculture has already been reported in Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan (Mimaropa) and the South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani and General Santos City (Soccsksargen) region.
But this has yet to be validated by the Department of Agriculture (DA).
Of this number, Mimaropa declared P147.747 million worth of damage to rice, P3.584 to corn, and P7.6 million to high-value crops.
Earlier this month, the DA has already reported the release of P18.3 million for cloud-seeding operations in El Niño-affected areas.
In the NDRRMC report, 23 areas in Mimaropa, Zamboanga Peninsula region and Soccsksargen were identified as experiencing a dry spell as of March 14, namely 10 towns in Occidental Mindoro, Zamboanga City, and 13 towns in North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, South Cotabato and Sarangani provinces.
State of calamity
Of these, six have already been declared under a state of calamity, namely San Jose town in Occidental Mindoro and Zamboanga City on March 5, and M’lang, Alamada, Pikit and Aleosan towns in Cotabato as early as February.
Earlier, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration warned that by the end of March, 22 provinces are likely to experience dry conditions, 41 likely to experience dry spells, and nine to experience drought, which means these areas have been hit with below-normal rainfall conditions already for two, three and five months, respectively.
The possible areas to be hit by drought this month were identified as Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Occidental Mindoro, Palawan, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Maguindanao and Sulu.
Areas predicted to be struck by dry spells were all provinces in the Cordillera Administrative Region except Ifugao; Pangasinan and Cagayan provinces; all provinces in Central Luzon except Aurora and Bulacan; Metro Manila; all provinces in the Calabarzon region except Rizal; all provinces in the Mimaropa region except Palawan; all provinces in the Bicol Region; all provinces of Western Visayas; all provinces in Eastern Visayas; and Zamboanga del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Dinagat Islands, Surigao del Norte, and Tawi-Tawi provinces.
Due to the dry spell in Luzon areas triggering water shortages, the National Water Resource Board has reduced water allocation from the Angat Dam in Bulacan for municipal water supply and irrigation and some farm areas in Pampanga.
The Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System overseeing the water concessionaires in Metro Manila has also reduced water pressure from 16 pounds per square inch (psi) to 7 psi for water household consumption and irrigation.
In Metro Manila, five hospitals have already been considered “affected” by the water service interruptions, namely the Rizal Medical Center and the National Center for Mental Health (reported to be “experiencing massive water shortage”) and the National Kidney and Transplant Institute, the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, and the Quirino Memorial Medical Center (“currently experiencing very low and weak pressure of water”), the NDRRMC reported.
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