BATANGAS - The party-list group Agricultural Sector Alliance of the Philippines (AGAP) has expressed apprehension over the Department of Agriculture's (DA) contingency plan ahead of the impending El Niño phenomenon next month.
AGAP Party-list Representative Rico Geron demanded that the DA release a comprehensive plan against the possible catastrophe that farmers could face this coming summer.
"When we, the party-list coalition and DA officials, had a meeting, mukhang hindi pa ina-address ng DA ang paghahanda sa pagdating ng El Niño by the mid-year. Although they're telling us that they have preparations against El Niño, I think it's not that comprehensive," Geron said.
El Niño was earlier predicted by the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) to be felt in the first quarter of 2015, but it was later said to enter in the middle of the year.
According to Geron, the DA should already start informing farmers about the effects of drought and introduce possible alternatives in farming.
He said the DA should teach farmers about the crops that are likely to survive prolonged droughts such as sweet potato, pepper, ubi, alugbati, munggo beans and cassava.
"Dapat nai-inform na ang mga tao sa impact ng napipintong El Niño. Dapat natuturuan na rin ang mga magsasaka kung anong pananim ang pwedeng gawing alternatibo habang nasa panahon ng El Niño."
"Yung ibang magsasaka nagpipilit pa rin magtanim ng palay dahil yon lang ang alam nilang itanim, kaya lumalaki ang damage ng agri sector kapag may kalamidad tulad ng tagtuyot," he added.
Fortunately, the El Niño phenomenon will spare the livestock industry in Batangas, Geron said. Nonetheless, he said they have prepared an in-house contingency plan against heat in the summer season.
"Sa poultry and swine, usually pag summer mas konti ang epidemya dahil hindi naman nagsu-survive ang mga bacteria sa mainit na panahon. However, meron din itong effect tulad ng heat stroke at mas mababang production dahil tumutumal ang pangingitlog ng mga manok o ang pagtaba ng baboy kasi humihina silang kumain kapag mainit," Geron explained.
He said some of their solutions during the summer season include placing fans and blowers with mist sprinklers inside their cages to lower down the temperature.
In large poultry farms, they place a more expensive but reliable insulation roofing to help control the temperature of the cages during heat season.
The DA, for its part, said that in preparation for the summer months, the National Rice Program (NRP) is complementing the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) in the development of small scale irrigation programs through the department's regional field offices.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso earlier called on the public, especially the farmers, to continue conserving water.
Alcala said it is best to be prepared, even though scientists have stated that there is a little chance of El Niño happening in the coming months.
Geron, however, said the DA's preparation is not comprehensive enough that the farmers could truly understand.
El Niño, the irregular rise in the temperature of the Pacific Ocean, is accompanied by below average rainfall.