Capitol allots P54 M for agri-fishery measures vs El Niño 

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor 

The Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO)  has allocated a proposed budget of P54.4 million for the mitigating and adaptation measures of the province’s agriculture and fisheries sector in anticipation of the stronger El Niño phenomenon next year.

“The agri-fishery sector is one of the hardest hit sectors when it comes to natural calamities like drought, typhoons, or floods […] In order to secure a steady supply of food, it is imperative that the province will be prepared for these events,” said a representative of the Provincial Agriculture Office (PAO) during the Iloilo Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa) in its forecast said that the province of Iloilo will likely experience the most severe effects of a stronger El Niño phenomenon between the months of January to April next year.

The Pagasa forecast showed that the province will get normal (yellow) to way below normal (red) rainfall, which already leads to possible drought conditions.

The rice program of the province, which includes interventions such as hybrid rice production support, inbred rice seed production support, balanced fertilization support, and the Jalaur premium rice program, will receive a total of 24 million of the total budget.

The PAO reported that rice-producing municipalities may experience a dry spell and drought that will result in low utilization of their rainfed rice areas.

Data showed that the province has 141,801 hectares of rainfed rice-based agriculture, with the 3rd district municipalities getting the largest land area with 45,839 hectares.

The PAO said among the mitigation and rehabilitation support of the provincial government for the agriculture industry include seeds buffer stocking, use of smart or bio-fertilizers and non-bio fertilizers, cash crops or alternative crops supports, and pest infestation control support.

For the fisheries sector, the province has allocated a total of 3 million for its aquaculture mitigation programs and coastal and marine resources management.

Fisherfolk of the province may suffer decreased income from low production caused by mortality in fish stocks due to increased sea water temperatures.

Meanwhile, the livestock and poultry industry will receive 2 million, while the climate field school program of the province will have an allocated budget of P1 Million.

The PAO noted that around 83,708 livestock (cattle, carabao, and goat) farmers will be greatly affected since these livestock are dependent on grasses and legumes, which will be limited by the onslaught of El Niño in the province.

Meanwhile, the climate field school will include the training of rice farmers on how to adopt and mitigate the effect of climate change.

The PAO furthered that the provincial government will also provide crop insurance and indemnity for farmers and fisherfolk affected by El Niño.

“The comprehensive insurance could also cover other force majeure, pest and diseases damage and could provide timely assistance for rehabilitation after climate-related disasters,” it said.

“The core strategy for this program is SIGURADO (Sustainable Insurance from the Government for Upscaling and Revitalizing the Agri-fishery Developments and Opportunities),” it added.