Long dry spell expected to dampen rice production
MANILA, Philippines–The probability that the El Niño weather disturbance will occur in the near future has climbed back up to 70 percent, but a “strong” event is not expected, according to a United Nations agency.
In its latest market monitoring report, the Agriculture Market Information System (AMIS) said the global rice supply situation would remain “generally favorable,” although the rice production forecast for 2014 still indicated a decline from that of 2013.
The AMIS, which is administered by the Food and Agriculture Organization, attributes the expected decline—by 2 million tons to 496 million tons—to contracting output in India, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Last month, expectations of a long, dry spell that could dampen food production were pegged at a 50-percent chance.
Citing information from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI), the AMIS noted that atmospheric and sea surface conditions pointed to a 70-percent probability that the El Niño could last until January.
The criteria for an actual El Niño, however, have not been met “because the conditions have not been in place long enough, and certain atmospheric features have not yet appeared,” the AMIS said. “A strong event is not expected, in any case.”
Still, the agency noted that the IRI forecast indicated an increased chance of below-average precipitation in Southeast Asia.
Rice farmers in the Philippines are currently in the latter stage of harvest. But food security authorities have raised their concerns over the possible effects of Typhoon “Ruby” on agricultural production.
According to Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala, some 12,000 bags of seeds are now ready for distribution, and the department has started to make preparations for what has been described to be the strongest typhoon to hit the country this year.
“We advise farmers, whose crops are ready, to harvest quickly before Ruby arrives,” Alcala said on Friday. “We want to minimize the effect of this typhoon.”
A total of 691,692 hectares planted to palay, and 303,542 hectares planted to corn are ready for harvest, he said.
In the Eastern Visayas alone, Alcala added, a total of 3,800 bags of certified seeds and 8,300 bags of hybrid seeds—all from the Philippine Rice Research Institute—have been made ready for quick replanting.
Overall, the Department of Agriculture has prepared a buffer stock of seeds totaling 78,479 bags for rice, and 17,554 for corn. It has also issued directives for the relocation of livestock and other farm animals from high-risk areas.
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