ARMM to spend P48 million to lessen effect of El Niño
Cotabato City (September 11, 2015) – To alleviate the drastic effect expected from El Niño in the region, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (DAF-ARMM) is pushing for a mitigation plan that would entail expenses estimated at P48 million.
Farm production and livestock have been affected because of an ongoing dry spell that may last until June 2016. The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration said a “mature and strong El Niño” is now present in the tropical Pacific Ocean that will likely strengthen further before the end of the year and may last until the first half of 2016.
This year’s El Niño will potentially be among the four strongest events since 1950, considering similar climatic episodes in1972-73, 1982-83 and 1997-98. Makmod Mending, DAF-ARMM secretary, said the department submitted the El Niño Mitigation Plan to the Department of Agriculture-National Office initiating assistance to affected farmers in the region.
Analysis of rainfall distribution in the region for the month of August showed that Basilan, one of the five component provinces of ARMM, experienced precipitation way below normal. This month, the provinces of Basilan, Maguindanao and Sulu and Tawi-Tawi are experiencing various stages of dry spell.
Dry spell is described as three consecutive months of below normal, or 21% to 60% reduction from average rainfall, or two consecutive months of way below normal, or more than 60% reduction from average rainfall conditions. Mending added that low rice production in the region is expected due to these conditions that affect more than 80,000 hectares rain-dependent farm areas.
In an executive meeting of DA national and regional heads in Naga City in August, regional officials were tasked to submit reports twice a week to formulate and design interventions for the affected farmers. It is estimated that close to 14,000 metric tons of rice production were lost in ARMM in the first four months of 2015 because of El Niño.
Mending said his department is monitoring the Kabunlan and Malmar irrigation systems that supply water to farms in Maguindanao. On May 22, DAF-ARMM distributed a total of P1.8 million worth of equipment and inputs to pre-identified farmers’ and fishermen’s cooperatives in Maguindanao.
Another P21 million worth of agricultural inputs and productive assets were given to about 5,000 farmers in Maguindanao and North Cotabato by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization and DAF-ARMM on July 8. (Bureau of Public Information)