• Bicol farmers pray for rains for barren land

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    PRIETO DIAZ, SORSOGON: The effect of the erratic weather in the country due to the El Niño phenomenon may hamper food production in the countryside as vast tract of agricultural lands turned barren without rain.

    Pedro “Manong Pedring” Destura, 55, a local farmer in this town is praying for downpour so he could plant unhusked rice.

    A decade ago, according to Manong Pedring, with the changing climate, the long summer has badly affected planting seasons and food production in the countryside.

    “Before, as early as June, we were able to plant rice and could harvest our palay in the month of August or early part of September but today we don’t know if we could still plant rice without rain,” he said.

    “The weather is so confusing now compared in the past or 20 years ago. I hope that the onset of the rainy season will be the same again so I could plant early to feed my family,” he added.

    Destura said they are trying to adapt to the present weather pattern but they need assistance from government by providing a new variety of rice that is suitable to plant in times of dry spell or flooding.

    Ed Yu, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) regional spokesman, said the dry spell has affected more than 4,000 hectares of irrigated rice lands across the region.

    He said that for the first cropping season this year, farmers complained of low yield due to water shortage brought by the dry spell.

    To mitigate the adverse effect of El Niño, the NIA is employing contingency measures to address the pressing problem such as water rationing and massive rehabilitation and repairs of irrigation facilities and structures for better and efficient delivery of water to farms.

    As for the long-term mitigating measures, the agency initiated the rehabilitation and repair of irrigation facilities and structures on a yearly basis since 2010.

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