The Department of Agriculture is focusing on enhancing hybrid rice production through its Masagana Rice Industry Development Program to mitigate the impact of the El Niño phenomenon on farmlands. According to DA spokesperson, Assistant Secretary Arnel De Mesa, hybrid rice shows promising performance during the dry season, which is crucial as El Niño is expected to reduce water availability, particularly in rain-fed regions, between February and March, with a gradual decline by April.
In a recent assessment, De Mesa confirmed that key agricultural areas in Pampanga, Bulacan, Nueva Ecija, Ilocos, and Cagayan Valley currently have sufficient irrigation supplies, thanks to the water levels in Angat and Pantabangan Dams.
To support farmers expected to be severely affected by El Niño, the DA has planned cloud seeding operations and the provision of small-scale irrigation projects. The department is also advising farmers to cultivate less water-dependent crops and to implement water-saving techniques such as alternate wetting and drying.
Furthermore, the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation has allocated PHP 1.8 billion to insure over 916,000 farmers for the first half of the year, with an additional PHP 500 million set aside to assist more than 200,000 farmers potentially impacted by El Niño.
Responding to inquiries about achieving rice self-sufficiency by 2028, De Mesa emphasized the DA's commitment to advancing its projects, particularly those related to irrigation, to boost domestic rice production.
Photo and source: PNA