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Agri crisis looms due to water lack

/ 05:10 AM March 26, 2019

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has warned that there has been a declining water supply for agriculture over the last few decades and the presence of the El Niño weather phenomenon could lead to an “agriculture crisis.”

More provinces are expected to be hit by the El Niño next month as the weather bureau sees the dry spell worsening and continuing until the end of the year.

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Just a month after Pagasa announced that the climate phenomenon arrived in the country, the farm sector already incurred P1.33 billion in losses and damages as farm lands turned arid due to the lack of water.

“Water supply for agriculture in the Philippines has been declining because of several major reasons… [one of which is the] frequency in the occurrence of El Niño, which now hits the country every two years,” Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said on his Facebook page.

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Piñol said the government must “locate and identify headwaters” immediately and dredge major river systems “to increase water holding capacity and prevent flooding during rainy season.”

He added that there should be “funding and implementation of alternative irrigation systems” to avoid a major water crisis in the next few years, noting that the sector’s “reliance on traditional irrigation systems instead of embracing modern technology” has impeded its growth.

Last week, the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) held a forum and adjusted its forecast to 51 provinces from 19 provinces that would be affected by the drought.

Forecast ranges of temperature by the weather bureau also showed parts of Northern Luzon and lowlands Luzon to experience the hottest temperature at 40.7 and 40.4 degrees Celsius.

“Models indicate weak or even moderate strength of El Niño conditions for the March-to-May season, continuing into June-to-August and August-to-October 2019 season, weakening but not disappearing in October-to-December 2019,” Pagasa said.

Overall, from April to June, there are 51 provinces that will experience drought while 32 provinces are to experience a dry spell.

By the end of April, 61 percent of the country will likely experience a drought while 31 percent will likely experience a dry spell—leaving only 8 percent of the country that will not be vulnerable to El Niño.

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Pagasa defines a dry spell as at least three consecutive months of 21- to 60-percent reduction in rainfall, while drought is characterized by either reduced chance of rainfall for three consecutive months or a dry spell that lasts for five consecutive months.

In Luzon, provinces that may be hit by the climate pattern the hardest include Abra, Benguet, Kalinga, Apayao, Mountain Province, Ilocos Norte, La Union, Pangasinan, Bataan, Nueva Ecija, Zambales, Metro Manila, Cavite, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Romblon, Palawan, Albay, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Catanduances, Masbate and Sorsogon.

In the Visayas, provinces that are most vulnerable to El Niño include Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Biliran, Eastern Samar, Leyte and Northern Samar.

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TAGS: Business, Department of Agriculture (DA), El Niño
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