By DA Sec Manny Piñol
The Philippines and other poor countries in the region will have to prepare and brace for another Climatic threat as the Australian Weather Bureau has projected that the Pacific Ocean could warm up again and result in another long dry spell called the El Niño by the end of 2017 or early 2018.
With this development, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries will lay down this early preparatory measures to protect the Filipino farmers and fishermen from the ill-effects of El Niño which affects the fish catch and destroys crops because of a long period without rains.
The last time the country was hit was El Niño was in 2015 and the long dry spell extended to the First Quarter of 2016.
It resulted in the negative performance of the Agriculture and Fisheries sectors of as low as -4%.
The long drought also resulted in the tragic Kidapawan City Massacre where three farmers who joined a demonstration to demand for rice supply from government were shot and killed by police dispersal units on April 1, 2016.
Part of the preparation for the expected El Niño would be the establishment of Small Water Impounding Systems and Solar-Powered irrigation Systems.
Already, P165-M is being readied for the SWIS, including cloud seeding during the early stages of the drought.
On April 20, I will present to President Rody Duterte a proposal which would call for the immediate start of the Solar Powered Irrigation System all over the country and request for a budget of P20-B for 2018 alone.
Coordinative efforts will also be done with other agencies, especially the National Irrigation Administration for the early release of irrigation water for the next planting season to ensure that El Niño will not hit the next harvest, and the National Food Authority for the agency to be able to fasttrack its procurement program and import whatever is the shortfall in the rice buffer stocks.