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Farmers in Antique told to keep lands productive during El Niño

SAN JOSE, Antique (PIA) -- Antique’s provincial agriculturist is calling on farmers to keep their agricultural lands productive even during the onslaught of the El Niño phenomenon.

Interviewed over PIA Antique's Pagpaathag program, Provincial Agriculturist Nicolasito Calawag stressed the importance of maintaining agricultural output by temporarily shifting to rice varieties, high-value crops, and vegetables that can be planted during the long dry season.

Provincial Agriculturist Nicolasito Calawag answers questions about the El Niño phenomenon during an episode of PIA Antique's radio program, PAGPAATHAG.

This way, rather than be left [idle], affected lands may still be used to produce drought-tolerant and early-maturing crops needed for the food security and sustainability of the province, according to Calawag.

The official added that clustered farming is recommended to farmers and farming organizations to maximize water supply from the irrigation systems.

The Department of Agriculture through its advisories posted on its website, advises farmers on different methods to cope with the El Nino phenomenon.

The DA encourages farmers across the country to use the alternate wetting and drying (AWD) method whereby irrigation water is applied a few days after the ponded water has dried up.

This technology is applied to efficiently manage water supply and is done by reducing the use of irrigation water without compromising yield.

DA also pushes for irrigation scheduling systems and other farming practices that promote the efficient usage of water, in addition to cloud seeding operations to augment rainfall in critical areas.

Further, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Unit (DRRMU) of DA is promoting the use of organic fertilizer to prolong soil moisture and the adjustment of the planting calendar.

The government under the administration of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., in 2023, also reactivated the inter-agency El Niño Task Force and established the 2023 El Niño Mitigation and Adaptation Plan, both intended to lessen the impact of the phenomenon on the agriculture and fisheries sector.

In the long run, DA intends to implement water management activities strictly, put up more small water impounding projects and diversion dams, and establish water-related infrastructures such as hydropower electric plants and irrigation systems. 

To further help Antiqueño farmers affected by the drought, the DA in Western Visayas recently turned over to the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) an initial 1,200 bags of certified rice seeds and 400 bags of Urea fertilizer ready for distribution and planting in the next cropping season. 

State weather bureau PAGASA, in its outlook issued on December 18, 2023, reported that Antique may experience a dry condition by the end of January 2024, which means below-normal rainfall conditions for two consecutive months. (AGP/BPS/PIA Antique)

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Bernard Ceasar Susbilla

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Region 6

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