The Department of Agriculture-Regional Field Unit 5 (DA-RFU5) in the Bicol region has hiked up its climate change response to cover the predicted production shortfall as a result of a prolonged dry spell in the region.
Cesar Calleja, Regional Statistics Officer of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), said the late start of the rainy season has delayed planting of rice in the region, decreasing the expected yield by 27.29 percent for the third quarter compared to the same period last year. The BAS is an agency attached to the Agriculture department.
“Planting of rice that normally starts in the months of May and June has been moved to July and August due to absence or lack of rainfall during these months,” Calleja said.
He added that about 28,400 hectares of rice plants, majority still in the seedbed, newly planted or in vegetative stage have been damaged by Typhoon Glenda—which translate to around 97,898 metric tons of production losses for the region.
In response to these climate change challenges faced by Bicol rice farmers, the DA-RFU5 has launched the Bicol Rehabilitation Assistance for Glenda in the Agriculture Sector, a massive effort to rehabilitate farms and recover from the resulting losses before the end of the year. Initially, 6,000 bags certified seeds were distributed to the provinces of Sorsogon, Albay, and Camarines Sur during the series of visits and provincial launching activities of the rehabilitation program of Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala.
To date, some 10,065 bags of certified seeds have been distributed to the six provinces. About 50 percent of the post-disaster aid was derived from the funds of Rehabilitation Assistance for Yolanda (RAY) and 50 percent from the rehabilitation funds for Typhoon Glenda.
In addition, about 2,500 bags of hybrid seeds have been distributed to farmers in Albay and Camarines Sur under the rehabilitation funds for Glenda. A total of 18,370 bags of fertilizers good for 9,185 hectares have also been distributed to the six provinces, also under the RAY funds. Farm machineries have also been made available for use to realize the target of immediately rehabilitating the 28,400 damaged rice areas to generate around 106,945 MT of additional rice production.
“This will be more than enough to cover the forecasted production shortfall,” said DA-RFU5 Executive Director Abelardo Bragas.
He explained that in the event that only 50 percent of the damaged area or about 14,200 hectares would be rehabilitated, only 53,472 MT of additional palay would be harvested.
“This will be 9,050 MT short of the region’s production target for the year but enough to generate an increase of 2.65 percent or an additional 32,916 MT over last year’s production,” he said.
Climate change effects
Meanwhile, Alcala said that recent experiences on the devastating effects of climate change in agriculture have brought lessons both to the farmers and the government.
“We need to identify innovations and new technologies for farmers to effectively adapt to climate change. In the face of overwhelmingly changing climate patterns, we have to further capacitate our farmers to become climate and disaster-smart,” Alcala said.
Alcala has declared the Bicol Region, specifically Albay, as pilot area for climate change resistant or adapting crops in line with government’s climate change resiliency program.
For the purposes of monitoring and crafting of possible interventions, the DA has identified 44 provinces and two cities as highly vulnerable and moderately vulnerable local government units to the impacts of climate change and El Niño.