By Ma. Teresa Montemayor

(PNA file photo)

MANILA – The Department of Agriculture (DA) on Wednesday said the damage and losses recorded due to El Niño phenomenon now amount to PHP109.44 million.

In its second El Niño advisory, the DA-Disaster Risk Reduction Management Operations Center (DRRM) said the damage and losses were incurred at the reproductive stages of rice affecting 2,602 farmers and 2,177 hectares of rice areas, based on the assessment of the Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula regional field offices.

The volume of rice production loss is at 4,738 metric tons.

Apart from the weather conditions and actual ground situation monitoring, the DA-DRRM disseminates advisories and agro-meteorological information regularly via municipal and city agriculturists and report officers through Facebook or Messenger.

Earlier, the DA said a strong and mature El Niño is ongoing and expected to continue through January-February 2024.

The agency validates the vulnerable areas and identifies interventions for farmers who will be affected.

Majority of global climate models suggest that El Niño will likely persist until the March-April-May 2024 season with a transition to El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-neutral in the April-May-June 2024 season.

ENSO-neutral refers to the periods when neither El Niño nor La Niña is happening. They often coincide with the transition between El Niño and La Niña.

Accordingly, the DA consolidates and analyzes data such as planting and harvesting, source and status of irrigation systems, and provides information to farmers on proper crop management during El Niño, including adjusting planting schedules and optimizing fertilizer use.

The DA conducts joint area assessment before the commencement of cloud-seeding operations and promotes drought-resistant crop varieties that are better adapted to the anticipated weather conditions during El Niño.

For the status of dams as of Jan. 30, 2024, the Reservoir Water Level (RWL) of Angat Dam is at 211.40 meters which is higher than its rule curve elevation of 203.04m.

Meanwhile, the dams below their rule curve elevation include San Roque at 13.31m, Pantabangan at 19.74m, and Magat at 4.25m. (PNA)