By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
Should another long dry spell occur, the Department of Agriculture (DA) assured that early preparatory measures are in place to protect those that could be adversely affected, especially farmers and fisherfolk.
Although the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) said neutral condition, where neither El Niño nor La Niña is present, at least through May, international climate models predict the recurrence of El Niño during the second half of this year.
PAGASA added that there is “high uncertainty” in the forecast at the moment.
However, DA Secretary Manny Piñol is not wasting any chance in preparing for the worst as El Niño “could severely affect fish catch and destroy crops.”
“The Philippines and other poor countries in the region will have to prepare for another climatic threat,” he said.
Part of the preparation would be the establishment of Small Water-Impounding Systems (SWIS) and Solar-Powered Irrigation Systems, he pointed out.
Currently, P165 million is being readied for the SWIS, which includes cloud seeding during the early stages of the drought.
Piñol said that on Thursday, April 20, he would present a proposal to President Rodrigo Duterte that, among other things, calls for the immediate start of the Solar-Powered Irrigation System throughout the country.
He added that he would request for 2018 a budget of P20 billion for agriculture alone.