Malacañang on Saturday said the government has started implementing drought-mitigating programs in areas that will be affected by the El Niño phenomenon.
Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. gave assurances that the Department of Agriculture (DA) has a comprehensive El Niño response plan that includes programs focusing on production support, water management, and information dissemination.
The action plan aims to maximize and optimize production in non-threatened areas and save vulnerable areas through appropriate irrigation intervention or crop shifting using short gestation crops.
“Hindi naman kasi 100 percent ay tatamaan nitong El Niño, kaya ‘yung mga hindi tatamaan, susulitin ‘yung production po natin sa mga lugar na ‘yan [El Niño will not hit these area 100 percent, so we will optimize production in areas that won’t be hit],” Coloma explained.
For areas that will be affected, Coloma said the DA will irrigate farms and encourage farmers to plant short gestation crops.
Vulnerable areas that cannot be saved will be rehabilitated once the dry spell is over, he added.
The DA will also be conducting cloud-seeding operations in coordination with the Philippine Air Force. Coloma said another water management strategy is to “intensify implementation of alternate wetting and drying.”
The DA plans to install open source pumps and alternative non-water-based irrigation systems like solar and wind pump systems for high-value crops, he added.
Also part of El Niño mitigation efforts is the distribution of high-quality seeds for rice and corn farmers.
Farmers will also be supplied with mungbean, peanut, soybean, sweet potato and cucurbits as alternate crops, he said.
On top of these, the DA will improve its pest surveillance and monitoring.
The department will also distribute fingerlings, feeds and veterinary drugs, Coloma added.
“The important thing is the DA is ready and they have complete and comprehensive programs. They will look for resources so they can implement such programs and address the effects of the severe scenario of El Niño,” he said.