Efforts to combat effects of El Niño strengthened

As early as April 2014, the Department of Agriculture (DA) has started preparing for the impacts of El Niño on the country’s agriculture sector.

Stock image
Stock image

“We will seed all [of the] seedable clouds; we will waste no opportunity,” Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala said.

Cloud seeding is a weather modification method where chemical “nuclei” such as silver iodide or calcium chloride are introduced in the atmosphere to induce condensation, and eventually, precipitation. Moisture collects around these “nuclei” and, upon reaching a certain saturation level, falls as rain.

According to Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) Director Silvino Tejada, the Department has conducted cloud seeding operations in strategic locations nationwide since last year.

In addition, “[the department] has set up water management and conservation measures through its BSWM  and regional field offices to ensure that scarce irrigation water supply will be efficiently used and maximized,” Tejada said.

The DA has also released drought-tolerant rice varieties in threatened rice-producing areas.

For long-term adaptation measures, the department has improved the country’s small-scale irrigation systems to make these more resilient to the effects of extreme weather and other calamities. It has also promoted climate- and disaster-smart farming and fishery technologies to cushion the agro-fishery sector against the negative effects of calamities.

While the DA and other government agencies have put in place programs to address the challenges of El Niño, the Agriculture Secretary stressed that adapting to the effects of this extreme climatic condition, considered to be the worst in 65 years, is a shared responsibility among Filipinos.

The Secretary dispelled fears that crops cannot be grown during the El Niño, and cited the Mung bean as an alternative crop, among others, which requires warm climate during its growing period.

Cloud seeding is only one of the many interventions used by the DA to combat the effects of El Niño. Though this technology is beneficial to many agricultural lands, this may not be required or suitable in some areas. 

From the Department of Agriculture

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