Nearly 280,000 hectares of agricultural land in the Philippines is vulnerable to the effects of the El Niño phenomenon, which is expected to be felt beginning the last quarter of the year, according to the Department of Agriculture.
During the House Committee on Climate Change’s inquiry on Tuesday into the possible impacts of the dry spell, DA Director U-Nichols Manalo said rice and corn farms may feel the brunt of El Niño.
“Ito ‘yung areas na based on the forecast hindi aabutan ng irrigation water, that’s why ang response ng DA is dito nakatutok,” Manalo told the panel.
In preparation for the El Niño, the government has desilted and improved irrigation canals, and campaigned for the adoption of a crop management approach in rice production.
It also distributed small-scale irrigation facilities and equipment and launched a nationwide information campaign on proper water management.
“‘Yung mga areas po na hindi makakapag-tanim talaga ng rice, is titignan natin kung may pupwede silang itanim o suitable sa area nila na tinatawag nating other crops. Yung iba po pwede magtanim ng mais, yung iba naman high value crops like moonbean, mga legumes at the same time yung mga gulay na hindi nangangailangan ng maraming tubig,” Manalo said.
Some lawmakers proposed the conduct of cloud seeding. But according to weather bureau PAGASA, it will require “seedable clouds”.
Manalo said the DA’s national rice program group has taken into consideration the projected impact of El Niño on crops in planning for importation next year.
“Na-take into consideration na ng Department of Agriculture pati ng concerned programs itong forecast PAGASA,” Manalo said.
NO POWER OUTAGES?
Despite the El Niño phenomenon, the Department of Energy sees no power outages during dry season next year.
DOE’s Mark Christian Marollano told the panel that based on the agency’s projections, the power reserve level in the country will be adequate.
“Based on our projection, we are seeing no shortfall, especially if El Nino will be extended up to 2024 because of adequate reserve from our power plants. So the reserve level for the Luzon grid, Visayas, and Mindanao will be normal condition. So in our latest simulation or outlook, we are seeing no impending power outages in summer of 2024,” he said.
Meanwhile, PAGASA expects up to two more tropical cyclones to enter the country before the year ends.
“A moderate-to-strong El Niño is present in the tropical Pacific, showing signs of further intensification in the coming months as sea surface temperature anomalies (SSTAs) reach more than 1.5°C. Recent analyses from global climate models suggest that El Niño will likely continue until the second quarter of 2024,” the weather bureau said.