DA steps up contingency measures vs La Nina

June 28, 2010 10:21 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, June 28 — The Department of Agriculture (DA) has stepped up contingency measures being implemented to mitigate the impact of the La Niña weather phenomenon on the farm sector in the second half of 2010 to ensure that its palay production program remains on track this year.

DA Secretary Bernie Fondevilla said on Monday that preparations for the La Niña include the repair and rehabilitation of irrigation systems and farm-to-market roads and the early prepositioning of seeds for farmers this wet or main crop.

La Niña is the abnormal cooling of sea surface temperatures, which triggers heavy rainfall. Its opposite, the El Niño, which causes dry spells due to the abnormal warming of sea surface temperatures, has just ended in the country.

Fondevilla noted that despite the recent El Niño onslaught and the impending La Niña, the DA is confident that Philippine agriculture production would manage to expand by 2.5 percent this year, barring any storm of "Ondoy-like" proportions.

Tropical storm Ondoy, which struck mostly Metro Manila and Central Luzon in September last year, brought a month’s worth of rain in just six hours, causing massive floods and billions of pesos worth of property damages and crop losses, particularly on the palay and corn subsectors.

"For La Niña, among the preparations are the rehabilitation work on irrigation and farm-to-market roads," said Fondevilla.

"After that, what’s important is the prepositioning of seeds for our farmers because the rains have already started to come, and some of them are already preparing to plant," he said.

Fondevilla said the DA’s Ginintuang Masaganang Ani (GMA) Rice Program proposed about P12.3 billion to implement its program, including the La Niña mitigation measures.

This amount is on top of what would be spent in the event that calamities strike the farm sector in the remaining months of the year, Fondevilla noted.

"Our GMA Rice Program coordinator is confident that barring any disaster of Ondoy-like proportions, we will be able to bounce back in the second semester," he said.

Fondevilla said the El Niño dry spell alone, of which the worst hit was Northern Luzon, resulted to around P11 billion in damages to the agriculture sector.

About P6 billion of this amount was in the palay subsector. (PNA) scs/LGI/utb

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