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Farmers suffer losses of more than P70-M in rice production due to El Nino –DA

By Rhaydz B. Barcia


LEGAZPI CITY --- Over P70 million was reported have lost in rice production because of the negative impact of the El Niño phenomenon in the Bicol Region, Lovella Guarin, regional spokesperson of the Department of Agriculture, said.


Based on the data presented by Guarin during the press briefing held at the regional office of the Philippine Statistics Office in Barangay Rawis, here, said that there are 1,120.00 hectares of rice-lands affected by the phenomenon.


In Masbate province alone, around 730 farmers whose plants were affected by the drought.


The farmers were identified to have been working on the rice-fields in the municipality of Cawayan.


At least 1,025.00 hectares of palay plantation were reported totally damaged and 95 hectares more were damaged partially. The figures brought a total number of 1,120 hectares affected. Over 2,565 metric tons of rice with an equivalent of P70,605,000 were recorded to have lost.


The Department of Agriculture is monitoring thoroughly the agricultural areas in Bicol for it to be able to cushion further the impacts of the phenomenon. El Niño is expected to persist from March to April, this year, with a transition to ENSO-neutral from April to June.


Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, and Catanduanes may face dry conditions based on the accounts of PAGASA. Despite receiving some precipitation in December 2023, Albay, Camarines Sur, and Masbate experienced below-normal rainfall.


The DA in Bicol is closely monitoring El Niño’s negative impact of drought by using drones and historical data which revealed significant damages from year 1990 to 2020. During those years, the DA registered a damage in the production of rice and corn in the amount of P1.82 billion.


The provinces of Albay, Camarines Sur, Masbate, and Sorsogon experienced way below normal rainfall in February 2024, affecting crops at various stages. Forecasted rainfall in the month of March and April is expected to become favorable to harvesting, but an increase in temperature may reduce vegetable crop yields.


Guarin said that the drought might affect 113,354 hectares more. Because of that report, the DA decided to allocate P725 million for the current year. The funds will be spent to beef up the operations of the National Irrigation Administration and finance various El Niño-responsive interventions, including irrigation pumps, weather stations, stress-tolerant seeds, and agriculture drones.


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 is the timely sowing of diverse crops in preparation of the dry season cropping.


Apart from early planting, DA Bicol also introduced to farmers the heat-resistant varieties of palay and easily grown vegetables.


Similarly, the DA Bicol 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. Earlier, Rodel Tornilla, DA Bicol regional director, ordered the distribution of all the needed planting materials to farmers for planting before the peak of the dry spell.


He urged the farmers to take advantage of the rainy days by plant before the dry spell to prevent its negative effect.


All the hybrid varieties of palay have been given to LGUs. Fertilizer discount vouchers were also distributed to all farmers registered under the Registry System for Basic Sector in Agriculture (RSBSA) in Bicol.


The 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.


DA Bicol report said 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 (PCIC) immediately after their planting activity.


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


Although, the DA official said that the three months rainfall in the past few months due to the shear line has prevented both irrigated and non-irrigated farmlands from experiencing heavy dry spell conditions.

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