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DA Bicol readies Bicolano farmers for El Niño’s impact

By Marlon Atun


LEGAZPI CITY --- The Department of Agriculture (DA) Regional Office 5 has prepared the Bicolano farmers for the expected negative impact of the El Niño phenomenon that might hit the region in the coming months of February, March, and April this year.


DA Bicol reports that as early as June 2023, the agency has already undergone a proactive approach to mitigate the impact of the El Niño phenomenon on the agricultural products in the region.


One of the interventions undertaken by the agency involved the timely sowing of diverse crops in preparation of the dry season cropping which started on September 16, 2023.


The persistent rain over the last three months due to the shear line has prevented both irrigated and non-irrigated farmlands from experiencing dry conditions caused by El Niño.


In certain areas of the Bicol region, some farmlands were even submerged in floodwater. Apart from early planting, DA Bicol also introduced to farmers heat-resistant varieties of palay, easily grown vegetables such as mongo, and other legumes.


DA Bicol likewise intensified the campaign for the farmers to register their farm products including their domesticated and farm animals. In December last year, DA Bicol recorded 66,000 hectares of farmland planted with palay.


DA encouraged farmers to take advantage of the rainy days and plant now before El Niño prevents them from farming due to dry spells or even drought. All of the hybrid varieties of palay have been given to LGUs. Fertilizer discount vouchers were also distributed to all the RSBSA registered farmers in Bicol. DA has advised the farmers to plant palay as early as December 2023.


DA Bicol Regional Rodel Tornilla has ordered the distribution of all the needed planting materials for planting from January to February this year.


DA Regional Spokesperson Lovella Guarin said that Tornilla also advised the farmers to stop planting rice in March where there is a possibility of experiencing below-normal rainfall as forecasted by the DOST PAGASA. Other drought-tolerant crops may be planted.


The department’s proactive measures are meant to remind the farmers not to plant at the height of the dry season.


The Department of Agriculture in Bicol is hopeful that addressing concerns related to the impact of El Niño in the region will be facilitated with the national allocation of a 1-billion fund in the 2024 General Appropriations Act specifically for calamities like El Niño.


DA Bicol is happy to report that the majority of more than 600,000 farmers in Bicol have registered their farm products free of charge to the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation immediately after their planting activity.


Every farmer with registered farm products with PCIC can be indemnified with the necessary cost if their farm suffers a setback as a result of El Niño. Local government units agricultural technicians and PCIC personnel will assess the affected farm areas to determine the extent of damage.


Meanwhile, farmers duly registered under the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA) with 2 hectares of farmland or less, will be granted P5,000.00 assistance from the Department of Agriculture in Bicol. This support is part of the Rice Competitiveness Enhancement Fund (RCEF) assistance aimed at benefiting local farmers. (PIA5)


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