December 11, 2017 | MANILA, PHILIPPINES

DA says preparing for another El Niño

TO PREPARE for the possible onset of another El Niño episode next year, the Department of Agriculture (DA) is consulting with overseas weather bureaus to narrow down the areas expected to be most affected by a new dry spell.

“We will coordinate with the credible authorities to determine which areas will be hit,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol told reporters on Monday.

Weather services in Australia and the US will help validate DA’s estimates on the possible extent of El Niño damage and which regions and provinces are likely to be hit, he said.

The DA said it is seeking to establish small water impounding systems and solar-powered irrigation systems ahead of the possible dry spell.

Mr. Piñol said that, at present, some P165 million is being readied for the small impounding systems and cloud seeding operations for the early stages of the possible drought.

He said he will present his proposal to President Rodrigo R. Duterte for the immediate start of the installation of solar powered irrigation systems for which he will be requesting P20 billion.

“Definitely, we will not be caught flatfooted,” Mr. Piñol said.

The last prolonged dry spell that hit the country started to make its effects felt in early as 2015, lasting until the first quarter of 2016.

Farm output in 2016 and 2015 took a hit from the dry spell, as well as various typhoons, with a contraction of 1.4% and a rise of 0.11% in those years respectively.

Data from the DA show that the El Niño damaged some P15.21 billion worth of crops from February 2015 to April 2016. -- Janina C. Lim