HIT BY DRY SPELL. Planting has stopped in this rice farm in Barangay Dulao, Bago City in southern Negros for lack of water supply due to the prevailing dry spell. (Photo by Erwin P. Nicavera)
BACOLOD CITY -- Rice farmers in Negros Occidental with sources of water have been advised by the Office of the Provincial Agriculturist (OPA) to plant alternative cash crops amid the prevailing dry spell associated with El Niño.
Dina Genzola, officer-in-charge of OPA, said on Monday these crops, like vegetables, will provide farmers an alternative source of income for the meantime.
On the other hand, Genzola said farmers in rain-fed areas have already been advised not to plant for now because of the anticipated dry spell.
“We issued a crop insurance advisory effective January this year. Since they have no source of water, they are directed to follow (the advisory),” she added.
Genzola added that if they insist on planting, their farms will not be covered by the insurance program.
“Proper timing is very important to ensure good yield,” the OPA official said.
In Negros Occidental, there are 65,000 hectares of rice production areas. Only about 40,000 hectares are irrigated while 22,000 hectares are rain-fed. The remaining three hectares are located in upland areas.
As of last week, the OPA has received notices of loss from an initial 400 rice farmers whose farms have been affected by the dry spell.
These farmers are enrolled under the Negros First Universal Crop Insurance Program (NFUCIP), which provides indemnity claims as mitigating measure for those affected by calamities.
Through the NFUCIP, enrolled-farmers may avail of the PHP17,000 claim per hectare of damaged farms.
According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), almost all provinces in Western Visayas will experience dry spell and drought next month.
Drought occurs when there is way below normal rainfall condition (more than 60 percent reduction from average rainfall) experienced in three consecutive months.
Dry spell is experienced as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition (21-60 percent reduction from average rainfall).
Negros Occidental has been identified as among the 13 provinces in the Visayas that will experience drought by the end of April. (PNA)