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DA Chief Reassures Government Preps, Interventions Vs. Looming La Niña

DA Chief Reassures Government Preps, Interventions Vs. Looming La Niña

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The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Monday reassured that government preparations for the incoming La Niña are in full swing to cushion the impacts of the weather phenomenon on rice production.

DA Secretary Francisco Tiu Laurel Jr. made the reassurance after reporting a delay in the distribution of flood- or submergence-tolerant rice varieties to local farmers.

“May (There is a) slight delay because of the normal government procurement process,” he said in an interview.

The agri chief, however, assured that they are ramping up efforts to speed up the process and get the distribution on track.

“But it’s good to announce dahil nag-bidding na last week, nag-umpisa na (because we already conducted a bidding last week, we already started),” he said.

Besides the distribution of the flood-tolerant rice variety, Laurel also highlighted the DA’s water management preparations through the National Irrigation Administration (NIA).

“Well, NIA was tasked to do more water impounding dams and slow dams para ma-trap natin iyong mga tubig na darating (to trap the volume of water volume expected to come),” he said.

He also cited preparations for the country’s irrigation systems, including the establishment of solar-powered irrigation and water pumps.

“Para ma-divert iyong tubig kung saan kakailanganin. Kung saan sobra, malipat sa iba (To divert the water where it is needed. Where there is an excess, it will be diverted to other areas),” Laurel said.

Meanwhile, DA Assistant Secretary for Operations U-Nichols Manalo said the department continues to oversee water management initiatives as the country is now under La Niña watch.

“We are collaborating closely with relevant agencies to develop action plans that prioritize managing excess water resulting from anticipated heavy rainfall,” he said in a statement.

These include desilting, repair, and rehabilitation of irrigation canals, gates, and hoist maintenance; promotion of early-maturing crop varieties, and establishment of seed reserves in crucial areas nationwide to ensure the sustainability of production.

The DA projects to hit around 20.4 million metric tons (MT) of palay production by the end of the year, taking into account the 500,000 MT to 600,000 MT average losses during times of typhoons and flooding.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has earlier said that La Niña has a 69 percent chance of developing from July to September. (PNA)