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Dry spell threatens 100,000 hectares in CL

City Of San Fernando, Pampanga — Over 100,000 hectares of farmlands in Central Luzon will be vulnerable to the threat of the “El Niño” phenomenon foreseen to set in by June, the Department of Agriculture Region 3 (DA-3) reported yesterday.

DA-3 Director Andrew Villacorta said the department has taken precautionary measures to address El Niño and to save over 100,000 hectares of agricultural lands, mostly planted with rice and corn in the region.

“The DA field offices in various places in Central Luzon are still conducting an inventory of shallow tube wells or deep well pumps and identifying priority areas in danger for drought due to the climate problem,” said Villacorta.

To lessen the impact of the dry spell, the DA is offering crop insurance to farmers whose lands have been identified as high-risk to drought, he said.

Cloud seeding will be conducted to help increase the water level in reservoirs, he added.

Villacorta acknowledged that despite reports of declining water level in the Angat Dam, there are no reports yet of decreasing water supply at Pantabangan Dam in Nueva Ecija.

“We are expecting heavy losses in terms of our farmers’ yield based on past El Niño experiences (should the water supply at Pantabangan Dam recedes),” said Villacorta.

He added that the dilemma DA-3 is facing right now is that it failed to include this kind of disaster in its budget program.

“Our office is closely coordinating with the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) to find alternative sources of water for farmers in the region,” he said.

Villacorta encouraged farmers in Central Luzon to plant short maturity variety of rice to avoid deeper effects of the phenomenon. “Short maturity variety can be harvested after 100 to 105 days from the start of sowing,” he explained.