MANILA, Philippines – Thirty provinces in the Philippines are experiencing a lack of rain or "dry spell," according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).
The weather bureau defines "dry spell" as either 3 consecutive months of below normal rainfall (only 41 to 80% of the normal rainfall) or two consecutive months of way below normal rainfall (less than 40% of the normal rainfall), PAGASA weather forecaster Meno Mendoza told Rappler.
Here are the affected provinces:
This dry spell, associated with the ongoing El Niño phenomenon, threatens to impact the agricultural sector, farmers and their livelihood. (READ: Negros Occidental incurs P28M agri losses due to dry spell)
Three provinces of Central Luzon, the so-called Rice Granary of the Philippines, are on the list.
Provinces from top vegetable-producing regions like the Ilocos and the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR) are also being affected.
"Dry spell causes internal water stress in crops and animals which is likely to reduce productivity," PAGASA Weather Observer Deborah Quiza told Rappler on Friday, April 24.
Farmers with livestock are advised to transfer their animals – such as carabao, goats, and pigs – to shaded areas during the night and not during the day, said Quiza.
Pregnant animals should be sprinkled with water "so they will cool down and won't get stressed by the heat," she added.
It said it has distributed drought-tolerant crop varieties, like rice variety PSB RC14, a type of rice that promises high yield even in conditions of water scarcity.
The department also said it is improving irrigation facilities and fast-tracking the implementation of small-scale irrigation projects under the National Rice Program.
Agriculture Secretary Proceso Alcala has called on farmers to conserve water and find a means to store it effectively, especially when their area is blessed with rainfall.
DA regional offices are encouraging vegetable farmers to plant early-maturing or short duration crops like mungbean, alugbati, sweet pepper and root crops like sweet potato, ube, gabi, and cassava. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.