Mitigating effects of El Nino: City asks cloud seeding status PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 08 January 2016 13:42

By SHEILA COVARRUBIAS

The City Agriculturist Office has written the Department of Agriculture (DA) to inquire on the status of the cloud seeding operation that was deferred last April in light of the frequent rains weeks after it was proposed.

The cloud seeding operation would be a standby plan in addition to the other contingency measures in place in case the worst case scenario will arise during the highly anticipated El Nino phenomenon, according to City Agriculturist Diosdado Palacat.

Recall that the cloud seeding operation was proposed by DA together with the City Government and the Zamboanga City Water District (ZCWD) due to the dry spell that caused huge damages to the agriculture sector April last year. However, after the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement providing for the allocation of P3M funds by the DA, P700, 000 by the ZCWD and P300,000 by the city government, the operation was set aside as the weather condition in the city improved.

Palacat said he is inquiring whether or not, the funding, which is included in the 2015 Budget is still available. Otherwise the proposal, if and when it is required anew, will have to undergo the same budgeting procedures.

According to Palacat, the City Government’s contingency plans for El Nino are in place. The purchase of drilling rigs, water pumps and seeds are on the pipeline and in case of water shortage, the City Agriculturist Office (CAO) will advocate for the change in the cropping pattern for rice or corn to vegetables.

On standby also is the authority from the Sangguniang Panlungsod for the mayor to enter into a contract with the DA and other agencies to augment the assistance to farmers in case of prolonged dry spell.

For now, Palacat said, the situation is still tolerable, based on feedbacks from the 6 Agricultural Field Offices. Field monitoring is continuous and the CAO is expected to come up with the water level report of irrigation dams and damage to crops next week.

to be hardest hit by the dry spell will be highland crops to include vegetables, corn and plantation crops such as rubber, mango as well as industrial crops. — Sheila Covarrubias