DA-12 approves cloud seeding operation in North Cotabato

September 11, 2015 5:44 am 

COTABATO CITY, Sept. 9 — The Department of Agriculture (DA) Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) has approved the conduct of cloud seeding operations in North Cotabato when the effects of the feared El Niño phenomenon is felt in the province.

According to Engr. Eliseo Mangliwan, North Cotabato provincial agriculture officer, a memorandum of agreement will be signed between the provincial government and the DA through the BSWM.

Under the agreement, according to Mangliwan, the provincial government of North Cotabato will provide the chemical or the salt to be used in cloud seeding while other operating costs and the airplane will be shouldered by the agriculture department.

North Cotabato has more than 200,000 hectares of palay, corn and other high value agricultural crops, making the province one of the leading producers of agricultural products in Region 12.

Mangliwan said if nothing is done to cushion the impact of the dry spell, the province will experience a reduction of palay and corn production. North Cotabato has been a major contributor in the food sufficiency program of the government and North Cotabato Governor Emmylou Mendoza wanted to maintain that, whether or not there is El Niño.

"We have prepared programs that will compliment the cloud seeding operations to cushion the effects of drought, not only in North Cotabato but all over the region," Mangliwan said.

Region 12 is composed of the provinces of North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Saranggani and South Cotabato and the cities of Cotabato, Kidapawan, Tacurong, Koronadal and Gen. Santos City.

On Wednesday, DA-12 officials have gathered all municipal agriculture officers to lay down plans on how to address the perennial problems that the El Nino will bring about.

Speaking to reporters, Gov. Mendoza said drought is not new to the province and it has survived the worst dry spell in 1997 and 1998.

“We are bracing for El Nino. In fact, after this, we will be meeting with our agriculture team, our disaster team. We will start the cloud seeding by September, if you can see around waters in creeks and rivers are getting very limited,” Mendoza said.

She said the experience in the past has taught agriculture officials lessons that can be corrected this time around.

She said ahead of the feared drought, the provincial government has already started food security projects early this year in Makilala, Arakan and Aleosan towns.

With a budget of P62 million, the project was designed to empower the agriculture sector by constructing more farm to market roads, multi-purpose solar drying facilities and feed mills.

In 2014, North Cotabato was adjudged top producer of rice in Central Mindanao with the annual production of 518,000 metric tons and second in corn with the production of 592,171 MT.

Aside from cloud seeding, North Cotabato provincial board member Loreto Cabaya who chairs the SP committee on agriculture, said a special task force on El Nino will conduct massive information drive in areas vulnerable to effects of dry spell.

Cabaya said there are some areas in North Cotabato whose residents lack enough knowledge on the effects of the climate phenomenon and how to survive from it.

The Provincial Disaster and Management Team will tour the communities in the provinces to educate the people about the dry spell, its effects on humans and agricultural products as well as work animals and how to prepare to cushion its impact.

Among the mitigating steps to be taken is to convince farmers to plant heat resistant variety of agricultural crops and venture into diversified farming.

The state weather bureau reported that the drought, seen as stronger that the 1997 El Niño phenomenon, will start this month and will peak by December and slow down in January or February next year. (PNA)



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