Govt set to battle El Niño season

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said Tuesday the government will lay down “preparatory measures” to protect Filipino farmers against the threat of another long dry spell.

Piñol made the statement after the Australian Weather Bureau warned that the Pacific Ocean could warm up again, projecting a long dry spell that could start between the end of 2017 to early 2018.

He said the El Niño “could severely affect fish catch and destroy crops.”

“We will coordinate with the credible authorities to know the areas which will be hit by the El Niño. We will coordinate with the Australian Weather Bureau, and we might have to seek additional information from the US Weather Bureau to validate the information, so we will be able to firm up our preparation,” Piñol said.

Piñol said part of the preparation would be the establishment of Small Water-Impounding Systems and Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems.

He said P165 million is being readied for the SWIS, which includes cloud seeding during the early stages of the drought.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol

Piñol said he would also present a proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte that, among other things, calls for the immediate start of the Solar-Powered Irrigation System throughout the country.

The DA chief earlier said he is seeking a P20-billion budget next year for the solar-powered irrigation system.

Piñol said he will also coordinate with the National Irrigation Administration for the early release of irrigation water for the next planting season, which will be carried out to ensure El Niño will not hit the next harvest.

“I already talked to NIA Administrator Ricardo Visaya for the early release of irrigation from NIA so that if ever there’s an El Niño, the latter part of our next harvest season will not be hit,” Piñol said.

He said the National Food Authority could also “fast-track its procurement program and import whatever would be the shortfall in the rice buffer stocks.”

Topics: Secretary Emmanuel Piñol , El Niño
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