El Niño destroys Mindoro farms

Occidental Mindoro has been placed under a state of calamity owing to damage caused by warm weather phenomenon El Niño on its crops―the seventh such province or city across the country to declare so since the official onset of the summer season.

Provincial agriculture officer Nonoy Baranda said Occidental Mindoro’s Sangguniang Panlalawigan declared a state of calamity last week to hasten the release of calamity funds to aid farmers affected by the dry spell, which has so far caused P149 million in damage to crops.

With the green light from the provincial board, the provincial government also gave fuel subsidies to farmers, which they can use for farming machinery, Baranda said. Seeds of vegetables that don’t need much water to grow were also distributed to farmers.

Occidental Mindoro follows the provinces of Cebu, North Cotabato, Zamboanga Sibugay and Davao del Sur, as well as the cities of Zamboanga and Pagadian, in declaring a state of calamity over El Nino’s effects.

The state weather bureau had warned last week that the effects of El Niño, a weather pattern associated with reduced rainfall, would become more drastic during the summer season.

As many as 51 provinces―or nearly two-thirds of the country’s 81 total provinces―would suffer from drought until the end of April, the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said.

Analiza Solis, Pagasa’s  Climate Information Monitoring and Prediction chief, warned Friday that a weak but prolonged El Niño warm weather system will stay until at least August, or as long as the first quarter of 2020―delaying the rainy season and endangering billions of pesos worth of crops.

Animals and livestock have also felt the heat, with poultry farms in Laoag, Ilocos Norte reporting that at least 10 chickens have been dying daily due to dehydration.

Growers have resorted to placing electric fans in chicken pens and asking caretakers to make sure the animals are drinking regularly to keep cool, a GMA News report noted.

The phenomenon is already proving disastrous to the country, as the Department of Agriculture said that damage to crops had grown to P1.33 billion as of March 19.

Northern Mindanao has been bearing the brunt of El Niño, according to the DA report.

The Agriculture department’s DRRM Operations Center said drought had claimed 78,348 metric tons of rice and corn, over triple the 22,918 MT of rice and corn posted in the previous week.

The Philippines has been experiencing reduced rainfall since February, with several provinces suffering from a dry spell and drought, PAGASA noted.

According to Solis, apart from Metro Manila, areas to experience drought by the end of April are Pangasinan, Bataan, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Batangas, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Albay, Camarines Sur, Catanduanes, Masbate and Sorsogon in Luzon.

Before year 2000, an El Niño phenomenon happened every 10 to 15 years, she said.

“Now, it has shortened to five to 10 years,” the PAGASA official added.

“In 1982, 1983, 1987 and 1998, there were strong El Niño episodes,” Solis said. Other strong episodes occurred in 2010, 2015 and 2016, “or every five to 10 years.” With PNA

READ: El Niño: Too big a problem

READ: Heat is on, it’s dry season

READ: Angat water level fast going down, PAGASA warns

Topics: El Niño phenomenon , Nonoy Baranda , Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration
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