BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Capitol has started preparations for the long, dry spell expected to hit the country’s sugar-producing capital as the El Niño phenomenon is being felt in the Philippines.
Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson has announced yesterday the setting aside of P15 million for mitigation measures for the El Niño that is forecast by State weather bureau PAGASA to last until next year.
International bodies have also warned of a possibile record-breaking year in terms of heat, even higher than those recorded across the globe in 2016, the last time the phenomenon was recorded.
The climate pattern, which starts with the building up of warm water in the Pacific happens every three to seven years and usually lasts for several months or years.
Here, published reports recorded agricultural damage in the province to habe reached more than P400 million.
Disaster czar Irene Bel Ploteña told DNX the El Niño Task Force headed by Lacson will soon meet to map out a plan to address specific challenges though she initially sees two priorities so far – potable water and crop damage.
Ploteña, who was appointed by Lacson recently to head the Provincial Disaster Management Program Division, said water suppply for drinking and crops is a priority challenge as the province is largely agricultural.
Lacson, on the other hand, said he is more keen on tapping runoff water and areas with existing water supply as opposed to digging deep wells that will stress an already depleting water source.
The province’s rice granary is in neighboring Bago City that is consistently among the top rice-producung areas in Western Visayas region.
Farmlands in Bago, and the cities of La Carlota, and the towns of Murcia, Valladolid, and San Enrique are being served by the government’s Bago River Irrigation System, an old irrigation network built in the 1970s during the term of then President Ferdinand Marcos Sr.
It now irrigates close to 13,000 hectares of farmlands.