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Worsening Dry Spell Affecting Farmers

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Sunday, 10 May 2015 - Last Updated on May 9, 2015
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droughtThis summer is shaping up to be a really hot season. The brutal heat is affecting many Filipinos in the country. Predicted ranges of temperature in Manila this May is 27°C to 39°C.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical, and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) warns the public to prepare for intensified heat as the dry spell is expected to affect more provinces this May.

Dry spell is defined as “three consecutive months of below normal (21 percent to 60 percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions or two consecutive months of way below normal (more than 60 percent reduction from average) rainfall conditions” according to PAGASA.

“It’s possible. That the areas (affected by dry spell) will increase by May due to the peak of the summer,” PAGASA Weather Forecaster Samuel Duran said. He said that PAGASA will gauge other areas in the country by the end of May to determine if dry spell affected them.

Extreme high temperature have already affected 30 provinces.

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PAGASA announced that the dry spell has affected Mindanao, some areas in Luzon, and several parts in the Visayas. Provinces namely Abra, Benguet, Ifugao, Kalinga, Apayao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, La Union, Batanes, Pampanga, Tarlac, Zambales, Palawan, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental, Bohol, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Camiguin, Lanao del Norte, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, South Cotabato, Sarangani, Agusan del Norte, Surigao del Norte, Basilan, Lanao del Sur and Sulu are experiencing low rainfall.  The lack of sufficient rainfall in certain areas has resulted to drought.

Weather experts fear that the dry spell in the country will result to stronger typhoons due to warming ocean surfaces. An average of 20 typhoons hit the archipelago each year. El Niño, an abnormal warming of sea-surface temperatures in the Pacific can result to stronger and more erratic typhoons according to weather service chief Vicente Malano.

The El Nino phenomenon which occurs every three to five years can disrupt behavior of tropical cyclones and affect their track and intensity level. Malano explained that the tropical cyclone tracks are expected to change northward and become fiercer.

Climate change has been linked to ferocious typhoons like Super Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) which left more than 7,350 people dead or missing in central regions of the Philippines in November 2013.

The weak El Niño which began manifesting last March 2015 has greatly affected the rainfall pattern in many areas in the Philippines.

In April 2015, PAGASA reported above normal rainfall conditions over the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR), Cagayan Valley, Northern Mindanao, Caraga, and Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), including the provinces of Catanduanes, Compostela Valley, Davao Oriental, and Sarangani.  Other areas in the country received below normal rainfall last month.

Agriculture sector affected by dry spell

In Mindanao, both tourism and agriculture are feeling the brunt of the dry spell according to CNN. Agricultural produce worth millions of pesos have been wasted due to the drought in Zamboanga, Kidapawan, and Davao. Zamboanga alone has incurred losses amounting to P91.9 million in agriculture. Kidapawan City also reported P7 million worth of losses.

Crops highly affected by the dry spell include rice (the country’s staple food), corn, banana, and even cassava (normally considered drought-tolerant). High-value crops such as cacao and coffee have also wilted.

Farmers in Maguindanao province are terribly worried because their farmlands are getting drier by the day. They could not replant rice because the fields are too dry. The province is suffering due to lack of rainfall and extreme heat. Department of Agriculture and Fisheries in the ARMM is monitoring the state of farmlands in the province to determine possible course of actions.

Kidapawan officials reported that the dry spell has affected live stock. Some hogs and cattle are dying due to extreme heat. A city veterinarian said that the animals may have died of heatstroke.

Engineer Eliseo Mangliwan, North Cotabato provincial agriculturist said cloud seeding operations could help curb effects of dry spell.

“To save crops planted just last month, we recommended to the Department of Agriculture 12 and the provincial government the conduct of cloud seeding operations to induce rains,” Mangliwan said.

In Cebu, some farmers are forced to turn crops devastated by the drought into animal feed. Some sources of water that farmers depend for irrigation have dried up. Farmers feel helpless witnessing their crops withering in the heat. Even farm animals don’t have enough to eat because of affected crops.

Flower growers are also affected by the dry spell. Flowers like aster and chrysanthemum are drying up because of the drought.

In Albay, officials are concerned that the dry spell could trigger power outages, increase heat-related diseases, and cause adverse effects in agricultural production. The dry spell has already affected rice fields in Daraga, Camalig, and Polangui towns.

Extensive dry spell can also lead to nationwide power outages if some of the hydro-powered power plants would stop operations due to lack of water supply.

Photo c/o Flickr. Some rights reserved.
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Rachel Yapchiongco, also known as Rach to her friends, is a Psychology and Marketing Management graduate of De La Salle University. Rachel is a full-time mom to a charming young boy and married to an entrepreneur who has a passion for cooking. She shares parenting experiences and slices of everyday life on her personal blog called Heart of Rachel.

Ma. Rachel Yapchiongco (389 Posts)


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