In line with Pagasa’s forecast that the El Niño phenomenon will hit in the third quarter of 2023 and will last until 2024, the City Agriculturist Office (Cagro) has activated the pre-active phase for El Niño to mitigate the impacts of the dry spell on the city’s production areas.

Davao City Agriculturist Edgardo Haspe, in an interview with the City Information Office on Monday, said that his office has identified the expansion of rainwater catchments and irrigation facilities among the priority projects to be implemented under the pre-active phase.

“We’ll continue to expand the establishment of rainwater catchments in upland areas, particularly in Paquibato, Calinan, and Baguio and we also identify more sources of water that irrigation facilities can be established in vulnerable areas. We have identified at least 3 areas: Barangay Kilate and Barangay Bato in Toril District and Sitio Taloytoy in Barangay Malabog, Paquibato District, ” Haspe said

Haspe added that they will install more PE pipes in the city’s production areas to expand its coverage and proposed the establishment of additional dams in the upland areas to add sources of water during El Niño.

Haspe said that they are in close coordination with the Philippine Crop Insurance Corporation and conducted meetings with its personnel last March 22-23, together with municipal agricultural officers of other LGUs for re-orientation of programs and to ensure the registration of farmers before the onset of the El Niño.

“We are also monitoring the established open surface, solar and ram pumps, and other irrigation assets. Naa man ta’y na established na nga mga irrigation facilities so we need to have an inventory kung unsa tung naga-work pa until now ug unsa tung pwede–ma-repair kung kaya and dali lang i-repair para magamit gyud during El Niño period. (We are also monitoring the established open surface, solar and ram pumps and other irrigation assets. We actually have established irrigation facilities and we need to have an inventory of those which are functional and those that need repair, for it to be repaired for use during the El Niño period),” Haspe said.

He added that the city has an ongoing establishment of rainwater catchment in upland areas, particularly in Marilog and the city seeks to expand it to other areas like Paquibato, Calinan, and Baguio. A total of 258 water catchment facilities have already been established so far.

Haspe said that they also employed cash for work for the desilting, clearing and cleaning of irrigation canals so that the flow of water will be maximized.

Other projects to be implemented under the pre-active phase are the information education campaign to farmers regarding the possible impacts of El Niño, including the introduction of some drought-tolerant crop varieties, coordination with barangays for the IEC assistance and identification of water supply sources in their locality; coordination with National Government Agencies (NGAs) for support integration for provision of seeds, and fertilizers; conduct and assessment and mapping of the vulnerable areas of the city; and buffer stocking of pesticides for pest and disease outbreaks.

The pre-active phase will start from March until June 2023. During the active phase starting July 2023, their office intends to deploy irrigation equipment, identify areas that need irrigation assistance, and conduct a weekly assessment to monitor crop damage and outbreak of pests and diseases. To recuperate after the dry spell farmers will then be given seeds, planting materials, and fertilizers and food packs will be given, in coordination with city offices.

“Our readiness is para gyud ma minimize ang impact though dili ta kaingon nga dili ta apektado kay wala ma’y dili apektado during El Niño. The El Niño bisan asa ka mutago affected gyud ka sa El Niño. But we have to see to it nga ma mitigate ang impact sa El Niño, especially kadtong mga production areas nato sa city. Ang atong focus karon ma mitigate ang impact (Our readiness is really to minimize the impact, we cannot really say that we will not be affected because everyone is affected during El Niño. Wherever you hide you can be affected by El Niño, but we have to see to it that these impacts are mitigated, especially in the production areas of the city. This is our focus now),” Haspe said.

Haspe said that the last dry spell experienced by the city was in 2016 and a lot had been learned from that experience. Currently, the city has a total of 8,000 to 10,000 farmers situated in production areas. CIO