Planting rice next season may be delayed, says NIA

TAGBILARAN CITY – As the the continuing El Nino has taken a toll on farmlands and livestock, planting rice next season would probably be delayed, regional manager Mario H. Sande of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) told Kapihan sa PIA yesterday hosted by provincial information manager Rey Chiu of the Philipine Information Agency (PIA).

He said that cropping season that usually takes place in May would be likely be moved to July this year or earlier but this depends on the advice of the PAG-ASA.

He said that because of this scenario, of the total 7,800 plus hectares, only some 5,983 hectares could be served by a combined four major irrigation systems — Malinao Dam in Pilar, Bohol; Bayongan dam in San Miguel, Bohol, Capayas in Ubay; and Talibon irrigation.

The situation worsened in some areas where spring water is the only source for their small irrigation systems. In San Isidro town, some rice farms had no more water and this is aggravated by the fact that the Tinubran spring, main source of irrigation needs here, had already dried up in the aftermath of the earthquake in 2013, information officer Eric Flor said.

It will be recalled that Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA) Bohol has included in 34 provinces where the El Niño continues to persist.

“A strong El Niño episode will persist, affecting 25 provinces in a drought condition and nine others in a dry spell condition through the month.”

PAG-ASA said that the provinces of “Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Mt. Province, Pangasinan, Nueva Ecija, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate, Sorsogon, Bohol, Agusan del Norte and Agusan del Sur have been in a dry condition. The provinces of Rizal, Catanduanes, Camiguin, Misamis Oriental, Compostela Valley, Davao del Sur, Davao Oriental, Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur are experiencing a dry spell.”

The provinces of Palawan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Eastern Samar, Northern Samar, Samar, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Bukidnon, Lanao del Norte, Lanao del Sur, Misamis Occidental, South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are suffering from drought.

“Drought is characterized by three months of way below normal rainfall conditions or a 60 percent reduction from the average, while dry spell is associated with consecutive months of below normal rainfall conditions or 21 percent to 60 percent reduction from the average. A dry condition is a two-consecutive month of below normal rainfall conditions or a 21 percent to 60 percent reduction from the average.”

The prolonged El Niño phenomenon has already adversely affect the agriculture sector, the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) region 7 earlier said.

It was reported last year that thousands of farmers here had been trying to cushion the impact of the dry spell.

Central Visayas farm output in 2014, the report said, has decreased by 3.02%, down from 6.74% growth in 2013. Production growth of agriculture’s sub-sectors all plunged, except for livestock which slightly grew by 0.15% last year from a growth of 0.08% in 2013. Fisheries posted a double-digit drop of 14% in 2014. Production of crops and poultry dropped by 2.6% and 1.03%, respectively.

NEDA has expressed concern over this trend having double-digit decrease in fishery output, saying “this explains the rising prices of fish in the market.”

Carreon said only the poultry industry especially in Bantayan Island was fast to recover from disasters although it still recorded a slight drop in production.

Agriculture contributes about 8% to the regional economy. While industry and services account 36% and 56%, respectively.

NEDA said that farm sector’s contribution to the region’s economy is “very critical and strategic” considering that many of the poor households are working in the sector. He said: “We are concerned that if this [slow growth] will continue, poverty will also rise.” (rvo)

NIA regional manager Mario Sande

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