Iloilo readies for cloud seeding next week

(Francis Allan L. Angelo photo)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

Iloilo, the hardest-hit province by the El Niño phenomenon in Western Visayas, will be included in potential cloud seeding operations in the region scheduled for next week, the agriculture office confirmed.

“We requested this since we have significant damage and agricultural loss,” Provincial Agriculture Office (PAgrO) head Ildefonso Toledo said in a press conference on Thursday, May 23.

Toledo mentioned that seedable clouds have been monitored in parts of Negros Occidental, meeting the basic requirement for cloud seeding.

“The reality is, if there’s cloud seeding in Bacolod City and the wind direction is heading here because of the Amihan (northeast monsoon), it will still reach us,” he added.

Toledo said the cloud seeding may be implemented next week, with the Bureau of Soils and Water Management and the Department of Agriculture Western Visayas (DA-6) supervising the operations, and the Philippine Air Force administering them.

The operations will be based in Bacolod City, with the Bacolod-Silay International Airport as the operation center.

The DA-6 reportedly allotted P6 million for the possible cloud seeding operations. DA-6 regional director Dennis Arpia is currently in the central office lobbying for the funds.

Toledo also cautioned farmers about their planting patterns to reduce the risk of losses from the cloud seeding.

“If it’s no longer appropriate to farm, and given the state weather bureau’s forecast, they should avoid planting since it’s a risk,” he advised.

He emphasized that farmers who proceeded with the third cropping season from October to November have increased the agricultural damage reported in the province.

The PAgrO called for an emergency meeting on May 23 with the municipal agricultural office and the BSWM to gather concrete data on the standing crops vulnerable to too much rain.

Toledo said that crops that may be affected if the rains caused by the cloud seeding persist include high-value crops like watermelon, which are particularly vulnerable to excessive water.

Preparations are already underway for potential La Niña conditions, with insurance measures expected to be in place by the first week of June.

Based on the latest data from the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council, the production loss in Western Visayas has ballooned to P1.5 billion, affecting a total of 37,223 farmers and fisherfolk.