The Department of Agriculture (DA) said it is working to reduce the risks faced by rice production from the onset of El Niño phenomenon, especially in upland and rain-fed areas.

In a statement, Agriculture Assistant Secretary Edilberto de Luna said the DA is ready for the looming, prolonged dry spell, with various strategies in place under the National Rice Program and the DA’s climate change resiliency and adaptation measures.

“We will not be caught unprepared, especially now that the weather is becoming
harder and harder to predict,” de Luna, who is concurrently the National Rice Program Director, said.

Despite recent rains, the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) earlier said El Niño might still occur and peak by the end of the year.

As early as April this year, the DA had started preparing for the possible occurrence of El Niño in the Philippines.

The department has begun cloud-seeding operations and has released rice varieties that are tolerant to drought. It is also putting in place policy initiatives, water management, and conservation measures.

Modern farming and fishery technology has also been utilized to cushion the effects of El Niño.

According to de Luna, besides preparing for El Niño, the National Rice Program also intends to increase the volume and percentage share of the first semester rice output.

The 2013 first semester harvest was 7.998 million metric tons, representing 43 percent of the country’s total rice production.

The country’s small-scale irrigation systems and facilities are also being improved to make it more resilient to the disastrous effects of harsh weather and other calamities, de Luna said.

He added that the DA means to further enhance the climate change awareness and adaptation capacity of farmers and other stakeholders.


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