NEARLY a billion pesos worth of crops have been lost to the early effects of a looming dry spell caused by the El Niño phenomenon and the situation will likely worsen and affect the food, power and potable water supply of the country, Senate President Pro- Tempore Ralph Recto said.
In a statement, Recto asked the Senate to summon the responsible officials of the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) for an update on the measures they are taking to mitigate the effects of the El Niño.
He said a total of P823.29 million crops have been damaged by the dry spell as of May.
A preliminary assessment by the DA’s field units noted that corn farms were most affected with 28,105 hectares losing a foregone harvest equivalent to 45,729 metric tons of corn worth 28,105 hectares.
The phenomenon has also taken its toll on rice farms and vegetable farms, causing damage worth P221.28 million and P18.41 million, respectively.
More than 12,000 tons of palay from 4,618 hectares of farms have been lost, as well as 1,190 tons of vegetables on 242 hectares of land.
Recto expressed alarm over the El Niño threat and stressed the need for the government to act now to prevent further damage.
The lawmaker wants to know what DA and DOE officials are doing to address the problem.
“Would there be enough irrigation to water our farms; would there be fallback if hydroelectric dams run out of water which will power turbines?” Recto added.
Aside from the El Niño phenomenon, Recto said, the government must also prepare for stronger typhoons in the second half of 2014.
In its latest bulletin on the Philippines, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs forecast tropical cyclones striking the north with increased intensity.
The Philippines, Recto said, has experienced severe dry spells twice—in 1982 and in 1998.
The 1998 drought caused P9.2 billion in farm damage and affected 600,000 hectares of agricultural land mostly in Central Visayas.
The DA has identified 44 provinces and two cities as vulnerable to El Niño most of which are in Luzon.