By Jennifer C. Tilos
The Office of the Provincial Agriculture (PAO) here is preparing for the possible effects of El Niño.
In a Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) meeting, local PAGASA Chief Neptune Catarata said a weak El Niño is present in the tropical Pacific and will likely affect the province with below normal rainfall conditions.
With this, Provincial Agriculturist Nestor Villaflores presented some mitigating measures to lessen the impact of the heat wave in the province.
While dry spell will be experienced in the province, Villaflores said it is expected that rice and corn production may decrease to 50 to 70 percent.
With this, various mitigation and adaption measures are set to include intensification of information dissemination to farmers and other affected stakeholders and production of fruit and forest trees.
The farmers will also be provided by drought-tolerant varieties of rice while increasing the establishment of small scale irrigation systems to farming communities including solar-powered irrigations systems and distribution of polyethylene hose to farmers.
However, Villaflores said some of these mitigating activities may need more than P5 million budgetary requirements.
He also mentioned that the effects of El Niño may lead to a loss of 20-50 percent of crop production in the province due to the possible occurrence of plant pests and diseases.
A series of surveillance and training on pest management and control will be conducted for farmers and “Bantay Peste Brigade” volunteers while providing insecticides upon the occurrence of plant pest during the period and the onset of rainy season.
PAO also braces to respond to expected consequences such as shortage of fish seeds production, damage of crops in shallow water, a decrease of income of farmers, and possible occurrence of red tide in some of the bay areas in the province.
Villaflores said his office has received reported damage of 78 hectares of rice at repining stage in seven barangays in the municipality of Mabinay, but this report is yet to be validated by his office.
Catarata said the weather system may cause varying impacts such as warmer than average surface temperatures and a prolonged dry season.
In May, Negros Oriental is one of the identified areas in the Visayas that will experience a dry spell.
Dry spell means three consecutive months of below-normal rainfall (21 percent to 60 percent reduction from average) or two months of consecutive way below normal rainfall (more than 60 percent reduction from average).