The total damage and losses to farms in Western Visayas and Zamboanga Peninsula due to El Niño has reached P151.3 million, the Department of Agriculture (DA) reported Thursday, Feb. 8.

In its latest El Niño advisory, the DA-Disaster Risk Reduction Management Operations Center said some 3,923 farmers are affected and possible production losses are at 6,618 metric tons of palay and corn.

Meanwhile, a total of 3,291 hectares are affected by the dry spell.

Vegetable seeds will be distributed in Western Visayas, the DA said while planting materials for high-value crops that need less water for the Zamboanga Peninsula would be procured to help thousands of farmers cope with the damage and losses caused by the weather phenomenon.

“These actions, which cost over P1 million, are on top of the cloud seeding operations, pest control management, and promotion of wider use of drought-resistance crop varieties to help regions experiencing water shortage,” the DA said.

To reduce water consumption in rice fields, the agency adopted an alternate wetting-and-drying system.

The use of solar-powered irrigation systems is being checked to bring water to farms that need this the most.

The DA is also studying areas for the feasibility of using shallow tube wells in rain-fed areas.

It also plans to endorse affected farmers to the Department of Social Welfare and Development, and the Department of Labor and Employment for other forms of assistance, including financial support.PNA