February 24, 2024

The Department of Agriculture continues to advise farmers to grow short gestation plants and those that do not require so much water ahead of the El Niño’s projected start in November until the first quarter of 2024.

Aida Pagtan, Regional Agriculture and Fisheries Information Service chief, told the Philippine News Agency on Oct. 11 that DA continues to inform farmers of various ways to cushion the effects of El Niño.

El Niño is characterized by low to zero rainfall and temperature that is higher than usual.

For the agricultural sector, plants usually wither due to the heat, requiring more frequent watering as a result of high chances of evaporation.

Pagtan said the dry spell is a natural phenomenon that can be cushioned by adopting systems such as growing plants that do not require so much water and those needing only a shorter time to harvest.

For animal farming, she said the effects of El Niño can also be lessened by feeding cows with corn and sugarcane as well as legumes, which are good sources of protein for animals.

“They can seek help from the provincial agriculture offices for artificial insemination as heat lowers the chance of an animal getting pregnant,” she said.

For fisheries, the recommendation is to choose tilapia and bangus since these are resistant to heat, as well catfish and mudfish which lives and thrives in mud.

The National Irrigation Administration has also recommended the diversification of crops, especially in Benguet, like corn, carrots, cabbage, beans, tomato, squash, broccoli, sweet peas, onion leeks, and radish, all of which have low water demand compared to rice.

Engr. Chrisanta Beray, NIA-Cordillera chief of operations, in a report shared on Oct. 11 also recommended the use of early maturing and drought-resistant plant varieties as well as the adoption of a rotational schedule of water delivery for hosed farmlands.

She said the 2,848.89 hectares of farmlands serviced by the NIA in Abra, Apayao, Ifugao, and Kalinga, as well as the community irrigation systems in Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, and Mountain Province have a high risk of being affected by the dry spell, necessitating that farmers prepare and look for alternative sources of water.

 “Pumped water as augmentation or sourcing water by pumping them from the nearby creeks or underground can be resorted to avoid disruption of the planting season,” she said. –PNA