Rice-corn losses reach P5.7b; El Niño ‘survival fund’ sought

The damage to rice and corn crops due to El Niño has reached P5.7 billion, the Department of Agriculture said Sunday.

The losses had exceeded the agency’s initial forecast of P1.7 billion, Agriculture Undersecretary Ariel Cayanan said.

He made his statement even as Deputy Minority Leader and Makati City Rep. Luis Campos Jr. urged the barangays and non-governmental organizations to avail themselves of the people’s survival fund or PSF so they could put up functional rainwater collectors in their communities.

He underscored the importance of groups availing themselves of the PSF with 61 percent of the country, including Metro Manila, reeling from the drought brought on by El Niño.

“The PSF is a special annual fund in the national treasury that provides subsidy to climate change adaptation and natural disaster resilience strategies, including the installation of practical rainwater harvesters,” Campos said.

Cayanan said there were reports that the damage was worth P7.4 billion, but the agency had validated only P5.7 billion in losses.

The damage, however, would not result in a shortage of rice and corn, he said.

Meanwhile, the incidents of fish kills due to extreme heat and overuse of fish pens were also reported recently in some areas in Pangasinan, Cayanan said.

He said cloud seeding was “not the main solution to El Niño as this would have to depend on the presence of “substantial” clouds that could spawn rain.

The department has instead encouraged the planting of drought-tolerant seeds, while longer-term loans and insurance for farmers were also in place, Cayanan said.

He suggested changing the schedule of the planting season to make crops ready for harvest before the peak of the dry season. 

This year’s rainy season will be delayed with El Niño expected to last until June, the state meteorology bureau earlier said. 

READ: Amid El Niño, flash floods warning up

READ: More areas reel from El Niño

READ: Food price spiral feared amid prolonged dry spell

Topics: El Niño , Luis Campos , Ariel Cayanan , Pangasinan
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