July 23, 2024

The Department of Agriculture said climate-smart mapping will help alleviate the destructive effects of the looming La Niña.

DA Asec. U-Nichols Manalo said the strategy, which uses consolidated records, is important in coming out with location-specific evaluations of areas vulnerable to flooding and typhoon tracks.

“We are looking at possible areas that, based on history, are really flood-prone especially for rice. What we want is to use a climate-smart map, where the data of the region, data from the National Irrigation Administration, and data from the local government units are consolidated,” he said.

Using historical data and the latest forecast from the Pagasa would give a clearer picture when and where to issue advance warnings to farmers, as well as rice varieties to be planted during the rainy season, he said.

“We will have more advance warnings to farmers. If crops are ready for harvest, these can be harvested, and we can also use flood tolerant varieties,” he added.

Based on historical data, Manalo said areas typically affected by typhoons are the eastern portions of the country, with tracks sometimes traversing Central Luzon, Northern Luzon, or even Southern Tagalog.

He said the country loses around 500,000 to 600,000 metric tons (MT) in palay production during “historical” typhoons where flooding is prevalent.

This is higher than the 191,233 MT recorded losses during the El Niño phenomenon.

The DA, meanwhile, reported the growth of the agri-fishery sector was recorded at 1.2 percent in December 2023, from 0.5 percent in 2022.

“This is similar to the pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Although we encountered challenges due to the pandemic, our sector is gradually recovering,” Manalo said.

Among the major contributors to the growth is the increased production in the country’s staple, which is around 20.06 million MT last year.

Various programs including the implementation of the national and communal irrigation systems benefiting 136,000 farmers, small-scale irrigation projects for 2,707 farmers’ cooperatives or groups, distribution of machi-nery and equipment, improvement of post-harvest and cold-storage facilities to 4,178 farmer groups and 1,044 fishers, development of farm-to-market roads, and expansion of fish ports and landings, and updating of registry system of farmers and fishers, among others, have helped achieve the sector’s gradual growth.

To date, there are over 7.65 million farmers and fishers registered in the Registry System for Basic Sectors in Agriculture of the DA, with more than 2.7 million registered rice farmers.

For palay, Manalo expressed optimism in attaining the 20.44 million MT target production for the year despite the looming La Niña.

“There is increasing productivity per hectare,” he said, noting areas hitting or surpassing five MT in production per hec-tare.

Other drivers of high palay production include minimal losses during the El Niño phenomenon, and wider areas planted to hybrid rice varie-ties nationwide.

In terms of rice imports, the Philippines has so far recorded 2.17 million MT as of June 6. – PNA