• GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The provincial government of Negros Occidental is bracing for the effects of dry spell to Negrense farmers, after the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) yesterday raised the possibility of a longer El Niño weather pattern this year.
In an alert bulletin it issued, PAGASA said the recent conditions and model forecasts indicate that El Niño may emerge in the coming season from June to August, with an 80 percent probability, and may persist until the first quarter of 2024.
On the other hand, the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) reported that 11 hectares of rice fields in three barangays of Cauayan, Negros Occidental have already been affected by the dry season, as of May 2.
OPA estimates the damage at P552,425.
The affected barangays are Basak, Man-uling, and Tuyom, all in Cauayan.
OPA has submitted a P15 million budget proposal to the Office of the Governor, to cushion the impact of the dry spell on Negrense farmers.
Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson however wants a detailed program of OPA mitigating measures, stressing the provincial government is result-oriented.
Lacson assured farmers that the provincial government is preparing to help them.
“We just want to know from the OPA, in their proposal, the target results,” he said.
Pagasa said that El Niño is associated with below-normal rainfall, increased risk of drought, and higher temperatures.
The state weather bureau advised farmers to plant drought-tolerant crops, or adjust their planting schedules to avoid the peak of the dry season.*