GENERAL SANTOS CITY -- The city government urged the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Region 12 to fast-track its planned cloud-seeding operations in the wake of the worsening effects of the dry spell in the area.
Merlinda Donasco, head of the City Agriculture Office (CAO), said Thursday they had submitted a request to DA-12 to conduct cloud-seeding in the city to help ease the effects of the dry weather on its remaining standing crops.
She said the request was made by City Mayor Ronnel Rivera to DA-12 regional executive director Milagros Casis.
Citing their latest monitoring, Donasco said the prevailing intense dry weather has already affected over 120 hectares of farmlands and damaged around PHP2 million worth of agricultural crops.
She said most of the affected crops were corn that were planted in non-irrigated and upland areas in at least eight barangays.
“At present, we are also assessing the damage to high-value crops like durian, coconut and mango,” she told reporters in an interview.
Donasco said they have provided free vegetable seeds to the affected farmers as part of the initial interventions.
She said they are currently validating the areas and farmers severely affected by the dry spell for the distribution of free corn seeds and other inputs when the regular planting season resumes.
Ronnie Muyco, officer-in-charge of DA-12's Agricultural Program Coordinating Office here, said they are still waiting for the funding from the Bureau of Soils and Water Management for the cloud-seeding.
“We are also consolidating requests from other municipalities so that we can forward them to Manila (central office). We are hoping that we can conduct the cloud-seeding operations soon,” he said.
DA-12 had allocated an initial PHP2.5 million for at least 40 cloud-seeding sorties in parts of Soccsksargen suffering from the dry spell, which is spawned by the El Niño phenomenon.
Cloud-seeding is the process of manually spreading either dry ice or salt into the upper part of the clouds to help stimulate the precipitation process and form rain. (PNA)