MALACAÑANG on Saturday said the government is now implementing action plans in areas that will most likely be affected by the El Niño phenomenon.
In a radio interview, Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. said the Department of Agriculture (DA) has a comprehensive El Niño response plan which includes programs concentrating on production support, water management, and information dissemination.
This El Niño action plan, he said, aims to maximize and optimize production in non-threatened areas, and to save vulnerable areas through appropriate irrigation intervention or crop shifting using short gestation crops.
“Hindi naman kasi 100 percent ay tatamaan nitong El Niño, kaya ‘yung mga hindi tatamaan, susulitin ‘yung production po natin sa mga lugar na ‘yan [El Niño won’t hit 100 percent of the areas, so we will make the most production out of those areas that won’t be hit],” Coloma explained.
He encourages farmers to plant short gestation crops for immediate harvest and said the DA would irrigate the fields of affected areas.
The vulnerable areas, which cannot be saved, would then be rehabilitated since these areas would still be needed once El Niño passes, he added.
According to Coloma, the DA would also be conducting cloud-seeding operations, in coordination with the Philippine Air Force. The operations could help distribute water in areas hit by droughts.
Another water management strategy is to “intensify implementation of alternate wetting and drying,” he said.
The DA plans to install open source pumps and alternative non-water-based irrigation systems like solar and wind pump systems for high-value crops, Coloma added.
Another important part of El Niño mitigation efforts, Coloma said, is the distribution of high-quality seeds for rice and corn farmers.
They will also be supplied with mung bean, peanut, soybean, sweet potato and cucurbits as alternate crops, he said.
On top of these, Coloma said the DA would improve its pest surveillance and monitoring.
He said the DA’s comprehensive approach includes providing the needs of fisheries and livestock.
The department will distribute fingerlings, feeds and veterinary drugs, it will also advise farmers to plant “drought-resistant forage” as livestock feeds, Coloma added.
For the fishery sector, the DA will dispense fingerlings to replenish the projected production losses.
“The important thing is the DA is ready and they have complete and comprehensive programs. They will look for resources so they can implement such programs and address the effects of the severe scenario of El Niño,” he said.