LA TRINIDAD, Benguet – The Cordillera office of the National Irrigation Administration (NIA-CAR) announced that the agency is ready to implement the necessary interventions to help farmers and agriculture industry stakeholders to mitigate the serious negative effects of El Niño phenomenon which started to take its toll over some lowland farms in the different parts of the country.
Engr. John Socalo, NIA-CAR regional irrigation manager, said the Cordillera will be the last region to be affected by the serious negative effects of either the moderate or serious drought considering its high elevation and the occurrence of rains in several parts of the region at this time of the year.
“We are ready with the provision of the needed technical assistance to our farmers who will be affected by the expected occurrence of drought, especially in lowland rice farms which are the ones that are vulnerable to the El Niño phenomenon,” Socalo stressed.
The NIA-CAR official explained they were able to recommend the allocation of P35 million for this year as El Niño mitigation fund for the purchase of water pumps among other major requirements but the same was not actually used up because the serious negative effects of drought were not felt in the region up to the present.
He said one of the suggested remedies for farmers not to feel the serious effects of drought to their crops would be to plant early in order to avail of the utilization of available water supply in the different irrigation systems to sustain their production.
According to him, highland vegetables are not susceptible to the serious negative effects of drought but rice farms are the ones that are vulnerable to drought, thus, the assistance to be given will be focused in rice-producing areas in Kalinga, Ifugao and Apayao where the region’s national irrigation systems are also located.
He added the procurement of water pumps for emergency use of farmers affected by drought will be dependent on how will the El Niño phenomenon affect rice-producing communities but they have to wait until the submission of reports on the ground that the rice farms are already affected by drought so as not to waste the money allocated for the purpose.
Aside from the purchase of water pumps to be used in the farms, Socalo claimed one of the recommended mitigating measures against drought would be cloud seeding in the watershed communities of the dams to guarantee the occurrence of rain to feed the rivers with abundant supply of water that could be used to provide water for the rice farms.
Socalo appealed to farmers that already affected by drought to submit their reports to the nearest NIA provincial offices which will be subjected to validation before the provision of assistance to them to recover from the effects of drought to their crops.
By Dexter A. See