Bohol now banks on cloud seeding operations best seen by April and May for the next cropping season of rice as a weak El NiÃ±o already grips Bohol and it stands until end of June.
Leonard Samar of the local PAGASA confirmed in an interview over top-ratedÂ DYRD Inyong AlagadÂ yesterday that a weak El NiÃ±o phenomenon has already affected some areas in the province.
In fact, it had been affecting northern Luzon starting February, and itâ€™s starting to plague Bohol now, according to Samar.
The weak El NiÃ±o phenomenon is likely to continue affecting Bohol until the end of June wherein only some light rains are possible.
Samar said PAGASA office in Dauis no longer recorded any rain in Bohol starting March 1.
In Eastern part of visayasâ€”Leyte and Samarâ€”it experienced some rain yesterday but it had been too light, he added.
As a result of months without heavy rain, the water level in Malinao Dam had already dropped to a critical spot.
NIA-7 Regional Manager Mario Sande said they are now alternating the release of water from Malinao Dam in Pilar at an interval of three days.
This is to maximize is left in the reservoir of Malinao dam and avoid damage of crops.
Of the four major dams in Bohol, only Malinao Dam that is affected by the absence of rain. The volume of water in three othersâ€”Bayongan, Capayas and Talibon damsâ€”are not problematic.
Malinao service area covers Â parts of Pilar, an area in Alicia, a portion of San Miguel, Dagohoy and Ubay ricefields.
Sande said Malinao Dam, for this cropping season, served 3,780 hectares of ricefields.
On March 17, there were only 1,932 hectares under terminal drainageâ€”which no longer need water and in fact, have to be drained of water in preparation for harvest.
During that time, 910 hectares were on reproductive stage.
This week, more area had been added to those under terminal drainage. From the 1,932 hectares last week, it has now reached to 2,190 hectares.
On this, only 590 hectares left in reproductive stage, out of the 910 hectares in the previous weekâ€™s record. Of the 590 hectares, 60 percent are in milking stage already and two weeks from now, will be in terminal drainage and no longer need water.
Most hit are the ricefields in President Carlos P. Garcia and Buenavista; and the rainfed areas in Carmen, according to Larry Pamugas, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Agriculturistâ€™s Office.
Farmers in Bilar and Batuan already harvested their palay and had been spared from the dry spell.
The larger areas with palay in the reproductive stage are those in the irrigation system like in Pilar, Bayongan, Capayas and Talibon.
While the planned cloudseeding will be timely for the next cropping season when undertaken in April and May, NIA-7 already has the long-term solution in the pipeline.
Sande said increasing the height of Malinao Dam by two meters will increase its capacity from the present five million cubic meters to 3.11 million cubic meters.
The proposal had already been approved and its implementation might be announced soon.
With increased capacity, the Malinao dam can collect enough water that can last even in a period of two to three months without rain.