The Department of Agriculture (DA) is now rolling out proactive intervention programs to prevent possible losses to upland vegetables affected by frosts in Northern Luzon.
In a report submitted to Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala, the DA Regional Field Office in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) said that several areas in the country’s vegetable bowl is already bearing the brunt of colder weather conditions, which may result to massive damage to crops if left un-addressed.
“There have been several reported cases of frosting on vegetables in December, but it is not as alarming as the 2013 occurrence,” DA-CAR Executive Director Marilyn Sta. Catalina said.
Known locally as andap, frosting involves the development of moisture into ice crystals on plants. If not immediately watered, affected crops will wilt and die as the sun melts the deposited ice.
Among the short-term measures being implemented is the provision of frost-tolerant seed varieties and anti-frost implements, which include plastic drums, pipes, hoses, power sprayers and water pumps. The DA also provided UV-treated plastic sheets for rain shelters and some greenhouses where farmers could cultivate plants under harsh weather conditions. A small water impounding facility was constructed and water tanks were provided as ready sources of water to flush off frost from the leaves.
The DA are also using “automatic weather stations” in strategic areas like Paoay, Atok and Loo in Buguias to give readily available reports on temperature drops and other relevant data.
It also identified vulnerable vegetable-producing areas and focused its monitoring and assistance efforts. These areas include: Atok, Kibungan, Buguias and Mankayan towns in Benguet and Bauko town in Mountain Province.
The vegetable from the CAR accounts for nearly three-fourths of Metro Manila’s supply of semi-temperate vegetables, including cabbage, lettuce, carrots, potatoes, beans and bokchoy (pechay).
Alcala assured the public of a stable supply of vegetables, adding that the DA will work to prepare alternative sources of upland vegetables by tapping Nueva Vizcaya and Quirino in case the situation worsens.