W. Visayas prepared to thwart El Niño’s impact, NEDA-6 says

A farmer takes advantage of the recent rains by planting rice in Iloilo. The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) said Western Visayas is well prepared for El Niño, with different government agencies taking necessary measures to cushion its impacts in the coming months. (Screengrab from DA-6 video)

By Rjay Zuriaga Castor

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Region 6 said Western Visayas is well prepared for El Niño, with different government agencies taking necessary measures to cushion its impacts in the coming months.

Engr. Arecio A. Casing Jr., NEDA-6 director, said the emergency preparedness and response measures of the various national government agencies are in place for areas likely to be affected by dry spells and dry conditions.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warned that a possible dry spell could hit Iloilo, Antique, and the island province of Guimaras toward the end of the year.

Meanwhile, dry conditions or two consecutive months of below-normal rainfall conditions are expected in Negros Occidental.

“(NEDA-6) has been working closely with agencies to ensure timely and efficient implementation of the strategies and programs laid out in the Philippine Development Plan and the Western Visayas Regional Development Plan 2023-2028,” Casing told Daily Guardian.

Casing said the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC) has developed an online dashboard on preparedness measures to provide or solicit updates on the services of the different government agencies in the region.

The NEDA-6 is a member of the Disaster Preparedness Committee of the RDRRMC.

To keep food price movements consistent with the government’s inflation and food security objectives, Casing said the local government is augmenting supply such as through temporary easing of import restrictions, price monitoring, and targeted social support.

The NEDA-6 director furthered that the Department of Agriculture (DA) Region 6 also has its mitigation measures such as the intensified information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign, prepositioning of buffer stocking including seeds of alternative crops, and regular monitoring of water levels of irrigation systems.

DA-6 has also reactivated its Regional Task Force on El Niño and updated the action blueprint formulated during the 2018-2019 El Niño period.

Casing said the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) is consistently conducting a series of meetings and workshops for the contingency plan for the forecasted El Niño and a series of committee meetings all over the region for the possible available water supply.

As of July this year, all 15 National Irrigation System dams across Western Visayas are currently holding water levels above the usual operational standard. These dams have the capacity to provide water to 52,631 hectares of designated areas for irrigation, benefiting a total of 37,373 farmers in the region.

To ensure food rice sufficiency of the region, Casing said the National Food Authority (NFA) is concentrating on the maintaining of buffer stock of rice and is conducting mobile procurement of rice to areas where farmers lack the means to transport their crops to NFA Warehouses.

According to NFA regional manager Dianne A. Silva, the warehouses in the region currently hold nearly 100,000 sacks of palay and close to 37,000 bags of rice.

NEDA-6 noted that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources is focusing its actions on the maintenance and protection of the second and third-year plantations.