‘Negros drought expected end of February until May’

Rice crops drying up in Negros Occidental.*OPA photo

Negros Occidental, including Bacolod City, may experience a drought starting the end of February up to May, the state weather bureau said Tuesday, February 6, said.

The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration Visayas said drought is defined as three-consecutive months of way below normal rainfall condition, or 60 percent reduction from average rainfall.

A drought could adversely affect different climate-sensitive sectors, including water resources, agriculture, energy, health and public safety, PAGASA said.

A dry spell has so far damaged P12,807,000 in rice crops in seven local government units in Negros Occidental, Provincial Agriculturist Dina Genzola said.

The areas are Binalbagan, Moises Padilla, Hinoba-an, Sipalay City, Himamaylan City, Isabela and Cauayan, she said.

Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson said on Wednesday that he has given instructions to Provincial Administrator Rayfrando Diaz to source funds to assist affected farmers.

“We will be sitting down with our provincial agriculture office to set the parameters on who are qualified to receive assistance from the provincial government,” he said.

The amount will have to be discussed at an initial meeting to be held in the next two days, Lacson said.

It is highly possible that other LGUs will be affected by the drought, he added.

“With regards to rice (damage) we have areas that are irrigated and so we have to maximize the water available for these irrigated lands,” he said.

“The rice lands affected right now are those that have been dependent on rain, they never had irrigation for their rice lands so naturally they will be the first victims,” Lacson said.

The bulk of the rice produced by Negros Occidental is on irrigated land.

“For as long as our irrigated land can produce the same volume of rice, even if there will be a drop in the overall rice production, I’d like to think that we will be okay because there’s always importation also,” he said.

“The national government can always turn to importation of rice,” Lacson said.*

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