DA: No Immediate Threat to Rice Production from La Niña

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The Impact of La Niña on Rice Production in the Philippines

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has recently announced that the onset of La Niña, a weather phenomenon characterized by cooler sea surface temperatures and above-normal rainfall, poses no immediate threat to rice production in the Philippines. Despite this assurance, the DA is already taking proactive measures to prepare for the arrival of the wet season, which coincides with the start of May.

Preparations for the Wet Season

Agriculture spokesperson Arnel de Mesa emphasized the importance of early preparations for the wet season. While the harvest season has already concluded in most parts of the country, it is crucial to ensure that rice fields are ready for the anticipated increase in rainfall. By taking preemptive action, the DA aims to mitigate the potential risks associated with La Niña, such as floods and landslides.

La Niña’s Potential Impact on Rice Production

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) has forecasted a 60 percent chance of La Niña developing between June and August of this year. While the ongoing El Niño phenomenon is gradually weakening, PAGASA warns that the hotter and drier conditions may persist alongside the neutral conditions expected from April to July.

Despite the potential risks, the DA remains optimistic about the success of government measures implemented to combat El Niño. However, it is important to note that El Niño has already caused significant damage to agricultural land in the Philippines. Approximately 60,000 hectares have been affected so far, accounting for half of the DA’s initial projection of 120,000 hectares.

Impact of El Niño on Rice Production

The latest report from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) reveals a reduction of 100,000 metric tons in rice production during the first quarter. This decline aligns with the DA’s projection of 134,000 metric tons. While this reduction is significant, it is relatively smaller compared to the estimated 500 to 600 metric tons of decreased rice production typically experienced during a typhoon.

The agricultural damage caused by El Niño has already reached an estimated 6.3 billion Philippine Pesos. The highest reported damage occurred in the MIMAROPA region (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon, and Palawan), amounting to 1.7 billion Pesos. Western Visayas followed closely with 1.5 billion Pesos, and the Cordillera Administrative Region reported damages of almost 800 million Pesos.

In conclusion, while the onset of La Niña does not pose an immediate threat to rice production in the Philippines, the DA is taking proactive measures to prepare for the wet season. The ongoing El Niño phenomenon has already caused significant damage to agricultural land and resulted in a reduction in rice production. By closely monitoring weather patterns and implementing effective measures, the DA aims to mitigate the potential risks and ensure the stability of rice production in the country.

Source: The Manila Times

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