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Western Visayas braces for severe El Nino in April

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With the weather bureau warning the hot weather this month is just a prelude to an even more severe El Nino weather phenomenon in April, authorities in Western Visayas have intensified disaster preparedness efforts.

Last March 22, the Regional Risk Reduction and Management Council held a Pre-Disaster Risk Assessment to discuss the status and preparations of various agencies for El Niño.

Citing figures from the Department of Agriculture in Western Visayas, about 547.52 hectares of rice areas were affected in Patnongon and Culasi in Antique with an estimated loss at P10,427,749.80 (https://thedailyguardian.net/local-news/expect-severe-el-nino-in-april/).

El Niño also affected 2,109 hectares of rice farms since December 2018 in Iloilo, including in Leon, Alimodian, Badiangan, Janiuay, Pototan, Barotac Nuevo, Dumangas, Dingle, San Rafael, Ajuy and Lemery.

Losses in Iloilo were pegged at P68,069,924, according to DA-6.

Recently, the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC)-6 reported P6.11 million worth of rice crops in seven barangays in Cauayan, Negros Occidental were also lost due to the dry spell.

Last March 22, Bingawan, Iloilo Mayor Mark Palabrica sought the declaration of a state of calamity to aid the farmers affected by El Nino using their calamity fund.

Palabrica said rice losses in Bingawan is already at P24 million affecting roughly 2,015 farmers and causing suffering for nearly 8,060 people.

The Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) already transferred P2.5 million to the DA-6 for the conduct of cloud seeding.

But Iloilo province is yet to be subjected for a joint assessment by the agriculture department and BSWM.

DA-6 also prepositioned buffer seed stocks which will be distributed to the affected farmers during the first cropping season.

As of January 31, 2019, 11,194 bags of certified palay seeds and 7,961 hybrid palay seeds are prepositioned by the agriculture department.

Some 3,273 bags of open pollinated varieties and 3,894 hybrid seeds of corn are also available.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 6 has 11, 338 food packs prepositioned for local government units (LGUs) who will ask for relief augmentations.

Renante Lasay, program development officer III of DSWD-6, said their department also has a stand-by fund of P3 million.