June 19, 2024

The Insider News

Direct from the source

Agri panel gets updates on government’s actions vs El Nino

THE House Committee on Agriculture and Food chaired by Rep. Mark Enverga (1st District, Quezon) met last February 28, 2024 to get updates from the Task Force (TF) El Niño, the Department of Agriculture and other concerned agencies to mitigate the effects of the El Niño phenomenon on the country.

Enverga said the meeting was called pursuant to the Speaker’s instruction. “No less than the Honorable Speaker Martin Romualdez is spearheading the efforts on the part of the House to help mitigate the effects of El Niño in all affected legislative districts of the country,” he explained, adding that the Speaker wants House Members to work closely with concerned government agencies in its efforts to alleviate the plight of Filipino farmers and fisherfolk in the face of El Niño.  

Ms. Annalisa Solis of Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, Astronomical Services Administration (PAG-ASA), presenting the country’s latest climate outlook, forecast that El Niño is expected to continue until May this year. According to her, some 30 areas have been identified to have potential meteorological drought conditions, mostly in Luzon, five areas in the Visayas, while 24 areas shall have potential dry spell conditions with six areas in Luzon, nine areas in the Visayas and nine in Mindanao.

According to TF El Niño Assistant Secretary Bernardo Alejandro IV, the government has taken a proactive approach to its task. Even before the TF’s reactivation via Executive Order (EO) No. 53, the TF has already formulated the National Action Plan consolidating the government’s intervention to prepare for and respond to the El Niño phenomenon. He described the plan as a living document that is constantly updated by concerned agencies based on identified areas of concern namely: water security, energy security, food security, health security and public safety.   

Bernardo noted that all concerned agencies are on top of the situation, as the TF has developed interventions in advance guided by PAGASA’s forecast. He reported that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in particular, is fast tracking all civil water works in close coordination with all water concessionaires to ensure continuous domestic water supply. Water supply levels in dams are also being monitored with the Department of Energy (DOE) giving assurance of sufficient electricity.  

During the hearing, National Irrigation Administration (NIA) Administrator Mr. Eduardo Guillen requested lawmakers to consider providing the NIA with a quick response fund (QRF), which may be disbursed quickly to aid affected farmers. Enverga instructed the NIA to submit to the Committee a proposal on the matter.  

Department of Agriculture (DA) Field Operations Service Officer-in-charge Ms. Lorna Belinda Calda recounted how the El Niño of 1997 and 1998 affected 677,000 hectares planted with rice and corn.  She listed increased food deprivation, reduced food production, reduced farm gate income, and increased food prices as some of the adverse effects of El Niño.  Thus, the DA’s goal, according to Calda, is to ensure the availability of sufficient, stable, safe and affordable food commodities. 

“We hope to complement the efforts of this administration towards a more resilient agriculture against natural and man-made calamities,” Enverga declared.