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DA to distribute agri inputs, help to El Niño-affected regions

MANILA: The Department of Agriculture (DA) will distribute vegetable seeds and planting materials for high-value crops that require less water in areas highly affected by the El Niño phenomenon. In a statement on Saturday, the DA said it would provide vegetable seedlings and planting materials to farmers in Western Visayas, Mimaropa, Ilocos Region, and Zamboanga Peninsula to help them recover from the damage and losses due to the dry spell brought about by the phenomenon. The latest El Niño bulletin put the estimated damage and losses to farms in Ilocos, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, and Zamboanga Peninsula at PHP357.4 million, with 7,668 farmers affected. Meanwhile, potential production losses from 6,523 hectares affected by the dry spell are estimated at 11,480 metric tons (MT) for palay, 2,897 MT for corn, and 225 MT for high-value crops. The affected rice area of 5,011 hectares is 0.52 percent of the total target area planted, while the production loss of 11,480 MT is about 0.12 percent of the target dry cropping season output for 2024. As for corn, the areas affected by the dry spell are at 1,263 hectares or 0.11 percent of the total target area planted, while the production loss of 2,897 MT is 0.06 percent of the target production for the 2024 dry cropping season. Meanwhile, the department also said it would begin its cloud-seeding operations soon in the Cagayan Valley region to ease its water shortage. The promotion of drought-resistant crops and pest-control efforts are also underway to assist farmers in areas suffering from low rainfall levels, the agency said. It added that it continuously encourages farmers to adopt alternate wetting-and-drying methods to reduce water consumption in rice fields. The department is also considering the use of solar-powered irrigation systems to augment water supply in areas vulnerable to drought. It will also endorse affected farmers to the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Labor and Employment for other forms of assistance, includi ng financial support. Source: Philippines News Agency