The Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Tuesday it is continuously providing farmers with concrete interventions to mitigate the effects of the El Nino phenomenon, as it intensified monitoring and reporting on drought incidence nationwide.
Lawyer Emerson U Palad, DA Undersecretary for Operations and spokesperson, said that as of April 23, there were 23 provinces that were directly affected by drought and 31 provinces affected by the prolonged dry spell.
The following provinces were affected by drought were Abra, Agusan del Norte, Apayao, Basilan, Benguet, Bohol, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Kalinga, La Union, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Misamis Occidental, Mountain Province, Pampanga, Saranggani, South Cotabato, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and Zam-boanga Sibugay.
Provinces were affected by dry spell, on the other hand, include Agusan del sur, Albay, Bataan, Batanes, Batangas, Biliran, Bukidnon, Cavite, Cebu, Com-postela Valley, Davao del Norte, Davao Oriental, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Lanao del Sur, Leyte, Masbate, Misamis Oriental, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Northern Samar, Nueva Ecija, Rizal, Samar, Siquijor, Sorsogon, Southern Leyte, Sultan Kudarat, Surigao del Norte, Surigao del Sur, and Tarlac.
Drought is defined as three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall condition or a 60-percent reduction from average rainfall.
A dry spell is defined as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, or 21- to 60-percent reduction from average rainfall.
“Our regional and provincial offices are continuously monitoring the situation, and will submit a regular situationer, mitigation plans as well as the actions taken to alleviate the effects of drought,” Palad said in a statement.
He noted that field officers of the Bureau of Soils and Water Management are now validating extent of damage of the dry spell as the basis for cloud-seeding operations and installation of shallow tube wells.
The DA official said they are closely coordinating with the National Irrigation Administration for better management of agricultural water, and employ water saving techniques.
The department is also fast-tracking the implementation of small-scale irrigation projects, and the construction of rainwater harvesting facilities and appropriate drainage facilities will also be prioritized, and rural farm roads
“Drought-resistant palay seeds were now being distributed, and we are assisting farmers in the adjustment of their cropping season as well as suggested practice of synchronous planting,” he said, adding that these will be complemented with pre-cloud seeding operations.
Palad said farmers who have already planted were encouraged to practice crop rotation to break the life cycle of pests that are present in the field and to break the continuous supply of food to the pest.
“We have already informed farmers that chemicals should be minimized to preserve the life of helpful organisms. So we recommended massive introduction of Bio-control agents,” he said.