Agriculture losses due to the El Niño phenomenon in Western Visayas already reached P1.49 billion, based on the May 6 situation report of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) here.

Iloilo province incurred the highest losses with more than P857 million, followed by Antique with over P210.8 million; Capiz, P203.49 million; and Negros Occidental, P117.48 million.

Guimaras incurred P69.26 in losses, while Aklan has the lowest among the six provinces in the region with P36 million.

OCD Director for Western Visayas Raul Fernandez, on Tuesday, May 7, said hopefully, the losses will no longer increase as the data is almost similar to the P1.5 billion damages incurred during the 2018-2019 period.

“We are now transitioning to ENSO (El Niño Southern – Oscillation) normal, so hopefully, we will no longer have additional losses,” he said in an interview.

ENSO is an oceanographic/meteorological phenomenon that develops in the Pacific Ocean and is associated with extreme climatic variability, according to state weather bureau PAGASA.

Fernandez said based on their report, only 10.8 percent of the 30,288 hectares planted with crops were affected because of the early intervention of the Department of Agriculture (DA).

He added that 291,931 families, equivalent to 1.1 million individuals, are also affected by the phenomenon because of the impact on their livelihood and water scarcity.

Nonetheless, he said that while cloud seeding is considered, the last time it was proposed showed that the “atmospheric condition is not yet ready.”

He said he would again consult with the DA if it is still possible.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development also provided P57.28 million worth of food packs and food items to affected families.Perla Lena/PNA