DA begins crucial regional consultations in fight vs El Niño | Inquirer Business

DA begins crucial regional consultations in fight vs El Niño

MANILA, Philippines  —The Department of Agriculture (DA) has started convening cluster groups nationwide to fine-tune strategies in alleviating the impact of the El Niño phenomenon on local rice production.

In a statement on Friday, the DA said they would be brainstorming to come up with measures to boost domestic output for the 2023 to 2024 dry season, which runs from December to May.

They would also be formulating plans to distribute interventions like seeds, fertilizer discount vouchers, and soil amelioration and biocontrol agents.


READ: PH rice purchases, El Niño aggravating price pressures


According to the DA, around 275,000 hectares of rice fields had been earlier identified as vulnerable to the impact of an El Niño-induced dry spell.

“Early indications suggest that number could decline given the high water elevation of some dams used to irrigate rice fields,” the agency said.

During the dry season, rice fields need more water supplied by irrigation systems. About five liters of water are needed to produce a kilo of the staple Filipino food.

The DA, through the Masagana Rice Industry Development Program, already held cluster meetings in Visayas and Mindanao, as authorized under Special Order No. 1516 issued on Dec. 22, 2023.

READBongbong Marcos OKs climate-adaptive, digital-focused Masagana agriculture plan

The Visayas leg of this gathering covering Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Eastern Visayas was held last Jan. 9.


The agency also met with the Mindanao cluster, comprised of Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao, Soccsksargen and Caraga, last Jan. 11.The DA has yet to schedule the meeting with the Luzon cluster covering Calabarzon, Mimaropa and Bicol.

Alternative tech

Seeking to overcome the challenges brought about by the weather phenomenon, the DA is implementing agri-input assistance and scaling of rice technologies.

“For starters, the DA mandated the adoption of alternative wet and dry technology to rice cultivation that will drastically reduce the amount of water needed to produce a kilo of rice to one liter per kilo from the current five liters,” it added.

The DA also said better seeds could also be used to counteract the impact of rising temperatures on rice yield.

READ: DA focusing on rice output to ease El Niño impact on food

It is estimated that an increase of 1 degree Celsius in temperature could reduce yield by 10 percent.

The Philippines is not entirely dependent on local production to meet the country’s rice requirement, with the data from the Philippine Statistics Authority showing the self-sufficiency ratio for rice hit 77 percent in 2022, lower than 81.5 percent a year prior.

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The balance is sourced from abroad, primarily from neighboring countries like Thailand. In 2023, the country imported 3.5 million metric tons (MT), lower than 3.8 million MT a year ago, based on figures from the Bureau of Plant Industry.

TAGS: Department of Agriculture (DA), El Niño, price pressures

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