LAOAG CITY, Ilocos Norte: Farmers and local officials in the province have expressed alarm on the lingering effect of El Niño that has caused water and irrigation systems to dry up.
The Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) has confirmed that the long dry spell has affected farmlands in the towns of Vintar and Bacarra while the Ilocos Norte Water District (INWD) is bracing for a possible water shortage.
With the looming water scarcity from the unpredictable weather conditions caused by climate change, Ilocanos have been told to save water as an immediate solution.
Gov. Imee Marcos made the call during the recently held Water Summit jointly sponsored by the provincial government and the INWD.
Marcos said the challenge for the next 15 years will no doubt be decreasing water supply because of climate change.
“Thus, we realized this summit as another effort to open our minds and our hearts to new and better ways of farming,” Marcos said.
It was attended by more than 500 representatives from the agriculture sector, academe and local government units including planning and disaster risk and reduction officers aiming to conceptualize practical strategies to lessen the effect of climate change in the province.
“While we are thinking and planning, the only thing we can now do is to be prepared, to adapt our traditional methods of agriculture and finally, to be resilient,” Marcos added.
In 2014, Marcos launched the “Green Wall of Ilocos Norte” project that covers around 21,000 hectares across the province wherein over 12 million seedlings have been planted with a high average survival rate at 85 percent.
“This project which is aimed at protecting the Ilocos Norte’s watersheds is an effort to conserve water and mitigate environmental degradation. We have done this because the problem of climate change requires a response from every resident of the province,” she said.
Meanwhile, Laoag city agriculture officials have adopted alternatives to cushion the impact of the long dry spell on fish nurseries here.
Aleli Martin, city agriculture officer, said fingerlings have been most affected by drying fishponds.
“We have adopted a solution to this by refilling the fish pond using a water pump or put the caged fingerlings in the river,” Martin said.
Agriculture officials also said the fingerlings will be distributed to fishermen using the bottom-up budgeting (BuB) program of the city government.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said the country will feel the full impact of El Niño toward the end of the year.