Damage to crops in Western Visayas due to the dry spell or El Niño reached more than P560 million as of February 29, according to the Department of Agriculture.

The dry spell has affected around 10,698.03 hectares of planted areas of rice and corn, with a total of 1,065.60 hectares totally damaged and 9,632.43 hectares partially damaged, resulting in a production loss of P569,190,358.63.

The area with totally damaged crops has 841.30 hectares of rice crops in the province of Iloilo, 102.05 hectares of rice crops and 86.79 hectares of corn in the province of Antique, and 35.46 hectares of these are rice crops in Negros Occidental.

For partially damaged crops, about 7,031.11 hectares of rice crops are recorded in the province of Iloilo; 1,822.27 hectares of rice crops as well as 250.47 hectares of corn in Antique; 48.25 hectares of corn crops from Capiz province and 480.34 hectares of rice crops in Negros Occidental. 

Aside from maximizing and optimizing production in non-vulnerable areas, the DA also distributed 288 bags of mungbean seeds, 136,892 packs of vegetable seeds, 418 kilograms of red onions good for 83 hectares, 40 kgs of yellow onions for 8 hectares, and 20,770 packs of 100 grams of soil ameliorants and pesticides to help farmers mitigate the effects of El Niño in the region.

The DA also deployed composite teams per province to monitor weekly crop stands, water level, pest incidence, drought damages, and other concerns and intensified engagement with the different local governments as part of the action plan for El Niño.

Jimmy Eledia, Jr., DA Disaster Risk Reduction and Management focal person said that the estimated production volume loss for rice crops due to the dry spell in the region is approximately 25,550.07 metric tons which represents around 1.13 percent of the region’s 2023 actual annual rice production of 2,263,158.33 metric tons.

Eledia added that the estimated production volume loss for corn is around 647.41 metric tons which represents around 0.22 percent of the region’s 2023 actual annual corn production of 329,148.75 metric tons.

The DA, according to Eledia, has already taken measures to somehow offset the losses caused by El Niño by releasing their production support packages like hybrid seeds and fertilizers since the third cropping of 2023 for the 3,045 hectares of non-vulnerable irrigated areas in the region.AAL/EJB/PIA6