• El Niño damage to PH farm sector hits P1.65B

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    DAMAGE caused by the prolonged dry spell to the country’s farm sector has reached P1.65 billion, affecting major staple crops and high-value commodities, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said on Friday.

    In a report, the DA said that intense heat and low rainfall brought about by the El Niño phenomenon has affected 38,311 hectares in 19 provinces in eight regions.

    A total of 21,317 hectares planted to rice has been affected with damage pegged at P1.03 billion, or 61,710 metric tons of the crop. More than 12,597 hectares of rice crops were lost while 8,720 hectares still have a chance of recovery provided there is enough irrigation.

    Damage to corn areas amounted to P605.6 million, or 46,487 MT of crop lost over an area of 16,888 hectares. Damage to high value crops was estimated at P14.5 million.

    Earlier, the DA directed to all its regional offices, concerned bureaus and attached agencies to intensify their monitoring of the weather situation in their respective areas with the El Niño phenomenon expected to continue until the latter half of the year,

    Atty. Emerson U. Palad, undersecretary for operations and DA spokesperson, said they expect field units and regional offices to come up with in-depth reports on the drought incidence – including damage estimates and proposed interventions to help affected farms recover.

    Earlier, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) reported that the global climate models suggest that the El Niño condition will likely continue until mid-2015 with chances that it would strengthen toward the end of the year.

    The state weather bureau also said that at least 23 provinces were now directly affected by drought, namely: 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, Zamboanga Sibugay.

    Pagasa also said 31 provinces were affected by the prolonged dry spell including Agusan del Sur, Albay, Bataan, Batanes, Batangas, Biliran, Bukidnon, Cavite, Cebu, Compostela 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 in average rainfall, while a dry spell is defined as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, or a 21-60 percent reduction in average rainfall.

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