MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture will begin drawing up measures to protect farmers and fishermen from the El Niño phenomenon that could start by the end of this year or early the next, Secretary Manny Piñol said.
Piñol said the warning came from the Australian Weather Bureau, which said the Pacific Ocean could warm up again. If this happens, he said, it “could severely affect fish catch and destroy crops.”
Among the preparations being eyed is the setting up of Small Water-Impounding Systems, for which P165 million is already being prepared and includes cloud seeding in the early stages of the drought, and Solar-Powered irrigation Systems, Piñol said in a statement.
He said “coordinative efforts” with other agencies, including the National Irrigation Administration and National Food Authority, will also be undertaken.
The early release of irrigation water during the next planting season will be carried out, while the NFA can “fast-track its procurement program and import whatever would be the shortfall in the rice buffer stocks,” he added.
Piñol also said he will seek a P20-billion budget for agriculture next year.
The last time the El Niño hit the country from 2015 to the first quarter of 2016, the performance of the agriculture and fisheries sectors dipped to a low of -4%, thestatement.
Among the offshoots of the drought was the violence that broke out when police opened fire on farmers demanding relief in Kidapawan City on April 1 last year.