THE government has admitted that cloud seeding operations in Davao City will be useless since damage wrought by the El Niño phenomenon to corn fields and mango orchards is so severe that these areas will no longer be able to recover the lost produce even if rains fall.
Moreover, 8,425 hectares of banana plantations in Davao del Norte or 37 percent of the total of 23,772 hectares planted to the fruit are now considered irretrievably lost.
Over the weekend, the Department of Agriculture (DA) said it will continue to implement measures to cushion the impact of the prolonged dry season brought about by the El Niño phenomenon.
Fears about growing crop losses have swirled following the confirmation that 630 banana plantation workers were terminated as trees started to die, with a huge volume of fruits not even ripening.
Greenpeace warned that unless farmers go organic and develop rice and corn varieties that are drought-resistant or capable of growing even during prolonged dry spells due to El Niño, they will continue to suffer the dire consequences of climate change.
On the other hand, the Southeast Asian Regional Center for Graduate Study and Research in Agriculture (Searca) argued that farmers opting for genetically-modified corn varieties can withstand the impact El Niño or La Niña.
Searca Director Gil C. Saguiguit Jr. explained that current research also focus on how crops can be coaxed to become more efficient consumers of water and even sunlight necessary for photosynthesis.
Topping the list of measures to be implemented by the Bureau of Soils and Water Management (BSWM) in cooperation with the Department of Agriculture’s Southern Mindanao Office is cloud seeding, with Davao del Norte as the target.
Mike Nota, BSWM technical staff member, revealed that “between P3 million and P4 million was allocated for cloud-seeding process, wherein 10 percent from the amount will be given to the El Niño affected localities.”
“We will not conduct cloud seeding in Davao City anymore because the damage is already big and it can’t be recovered. The provinces of Davao Oriental and Davao del Sur have sustained minimal damage and do not require cloud seeding intervention,” Nota explained.
He added: “In case there will be continuous rain in the next days, we can halt the application of cloud seeding.”
The DA in Southern Mindanao has prepared interventions for provinces that have suffered immensely owing to the prolonged dry spell.
Rafael Mercado, assistant regional director for research and regulatory functions, added that “even before the threat of dry spell, the agency has started to monitor and evaluate different areas in the region which will be directly affected.”
The National Corn Program also prepared 6,923 bags corn seeds as buffer stock while the National Rice Program has prepared 4, 200 bags certified rice seeds, 1,130 bags registered rice seeds, 125 pump irrigation systems and the repair of five more pump irrigation systems.
Under the HVCDP, 575 drums, 66 bags of mungbean, one unit spring development and a farm reservoir have been prepared.
DA Southern Mindanao Director Renalyn Recoter urged farmers to report their crop losses to their local agriculturists, “so we will know your concern and immediately act up on them.”