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Farm output seen to decline due to El Niño

/ 04:38 AM October 22, 2014

MANILA, Philippines–Some 27,000 farmers might not be able to work on about 34,000 hectares of farmland because of insufficient water supply expected in the first half of 2015, according to the National Irrigation Administration.

The NIA said in a situation report that the forecast was based on the initial effects of the El Niño now being felt in the Pantabangan Dam area in Nueva Ecija.

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The agency said that water in the dam stood at 182 meters. Because of the late onset of the rainy season this year, the Pantabangan dam is expected to hold less than the normal operation level of 212.15 meters.

Because of this, only 70 percent of the 114,490 hectares of farmland that is covered by the Upper Pampanga River Integrated Irrigation System may be serviced during the dry cropping season of 2015, which falls in the first semester of the year.

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According to the NIA, 27,332 farmers will be affected. The agency is formulating measures that will help mitigate the negative effects of the El Niño weather disturbance.

However, international agencies watching the possible occurrence of El Niño have turned their focus on the southern hemisphere, and even then the possible occurrence is considered weak.

Citing forecasts by the Australian Bureau of Meteorology, the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, and the United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the United Nations-led Agriculture Market Information System (Amis) noted that the probability of a prolonged drought in the southern hemisphere would be above 50 percent.

“Model projections suggest the event will not be a strong one,” Amis said. The potential impact of El Niño “should be considered nonetheless (including) below-normal rainfall in parts of Asia, Southern Africa and Australia, potentially affecting rice, (corn) and wheat.”

As for growing rice, the agency said, “conditions are generally favorable” even in major rice-producing areas such as India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand and China.

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TAGS: Agriculture, El Niño, farmers, farming, Pantabangan Dam, Philippines, Weather
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