The Department of Agriculture (DA) is taking the preemptive action to prepare the farming and fisheries sector ahead of the looming El Niño phenomenon this year, in line with the commitment of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to ensure stable and affordable food supply for every Filipino.
Meanwhile, Las Piñas Rep. Camille Villar said the government must prepare for the El Nino and its adverse impacts on various sectors.
The DA’s National El Niño Team (DA-NENT) met last June 1st with partner agencies from the food security group under the National El Niño Team of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NENT-NDRRMC) to discuss action plans in anticipation of the El Niño.
“We in the DA are doing our best in trying to allocate the resources like seeds, fertilizers, and other commodities that are necessary for the impact of the El Niño phenomenon to the farming communities in the country,” Senior Undersecretary Domingo Panganiban said during the meeting.
DA field operations service director and DA-NENT chairman U-Nichols Manalo presented their El Niño mitigation and adaptation plan for crops, fisheries, and livestock sub sectors based on the four thematic areas of the DRRM framework, namely, prevention and mitigation, preparedness, response, and rehabilitation and recovery.
The strategies identified include dissemination of information, education, and communication materials, proper water management, prepositioning of resources, crop diversification, adjustment of planting calendar, buffer stocking of inputs, promotion of short cycle and drought tolerant crops, among others.
“DA is already preparing for the worst scenario for El Niño this year. Nevertheless, we will be of course expecting PAGASA to provide us regular updates on this.” said DA Assistant Secretary for operations Arnel De Mesa.
“We hope that this will not push through but we should always prepare for the worst case scenario,” he said.
De Mesa also noted that not all areas in the country would be affected, thus the government initiatives could focus more on areas that will be severely hit.
He also urged representatives from partner government agencies to facilitate easy access and sharing of information with the Agriculture department to guide planning and decision making activities.
“With all of us working together, we shall be able to achieve more,” Panganiban said.
The members of the DA-led food security group are the Departments of Trade and Industry Social Welfare and Development, Energy, Labor and Employment, Budget and Management, Interior and Local Government (DILG), and the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).
The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), Department of Finance-Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation (DOF-PCIC) are also part of the group
Villar filed House Resolution 1024 urging the government to look into possible interventions to mitigate the effects of the El Nino, which has 90 percent chance of beginning this year, as its resulting severe weather conditions could impact the agriculture sector, affect essential and non-essential industries and stoke inflation.
“Apart from agriculture, water resources, power generation, health and sanitation and other sectors are likely to be impacted by El Nino, and concerned state agencies must prepare to mitigate the impacts of severe weather conditions,” Villar said.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said there is a high possibility of El Nino to develop in the coming months, which may persist up to the first quarter of 2024.
There is also a significant chance of ocean surface warming later this year, PAGASA said.
Experts noted that El Niño’s impact typically causes hot and dry weather and below-normal rainfall conditions, which could have negative impacts such as dry spells and droughts in some areas of the country. It could also bring heavier-than-normal rain conditions in other areas.
Taking note of the country’s previous experience from the El Nino phenomenon that resulted in a decline in agricultural output, Villar said the farming and fishing subsectors, as well as workers’ livelihood and food security, could take a hit from dry weather.
Also, the lingering effects of El Nino added to inflation woes and this time may drive up the already elevated cost of basic goods and services, Villar added.
The World Meteorological Organization has warned that El Nino could cause “far-reaching repercussions for health, food security, water management, and the environment.”