As a result of months without considerable rainfall, the water level in Malinao Dam had already dropped to a critical spot.
The provincial government banks on cloudseeding operations to prepare the ricefields for the next cropping season of palay.
Larry Pamugas, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Agriculturistâ€™s Office, said they are now preparing the requisites for the cloudseeding that costs P2.3 million to be undertaken with the assistance of the Department of Agriculture.
National Irrigation Administration (NIA)-7 Regional Director Mario Sande, based in Tagbilaran City, suggested that the cloudseeding undertaken in April and May as the best timing.
The long-term solution that is already in the pipeline is raising the height of Malinao Dam by two meters that 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.
As of now, Sande said NIA-7 is 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 the remaning crops relying on irrigation.
Of the four major dams in Bohol, only Malinao Dam is affected due to the absence of rain. The volume of water in three othersâ€”Bayongan, Capayas and Talibon damsâ€”are not seen as Â problematic.
Malinao service area covers 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.
As of 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.
As of March 23, more area had been added to those under terminal drainage. From the 1,932 hectares in the preceding week, it reached to 2,190 hectares as of the start of last week.
On this, only 590 hectares are 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 in one week, will be in terminal drainage and no longer need water.
Worst 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.
Bohol has a total of 47,375 hectares of rice area wherein 23,041 hectares are irrigated and 24,336 are rainfed.
In 2014, Bohol’s rice production reached 255,053 metric tons, contributing 75.48 percent of rice produce in Central Visayas region, 41 percent of which came from the third district.
The third district has a total of 19,257 hectares of rice area, of which 11,207 hectares are irrigated areas and 8,050 hectares are rainfed.
Irrigated areas from the third district produced 70,562 metric tons and rainfed areas produced 36,377 metric tons.
Pamugas said farmers in rainfed areas who took the risk to proceed with planting even in the approaching summer were most affected.
The ricefields in irrigated areas have higher chances of making it through the dry spell.
The farmers in rain fed areas thought that since it rained in January, the wet season could still be extended.
NIA-7 manages the communal irrigation system in Bohol, while the Bureau of Soil and Water Management also has Small Water Impounding Projects (SWIPs).
The farmers also thought that it would be like the previous year when it still rained at the brink of summer but they did not take the risk of planting then.
Pamugas said majority of the farmers, however, had their ricefields covered by crop insurance through the provincial government and the national governmentâ€™s program on crop.
He also suggested farmers to venture on crops that can tolerate the dry season like the cassava and sweet potato.
Even the livestock and inland fishery have also been affected by the weak El NiÃ±o phenomenon.
Pamugas called on the farmers and the fisherfolk to conserve water to maximize the supply.
Urban gardening can also help, because the wastewater are used to water the plants.
The Provincial Agriculturistâ€™s Office tapped the municipal agriculturists in distributing information campaign materials to the towns about the means to hurdle the El NiÃ±o and La NiÃ±a phenomena and through the early morning radio program, Tingog sa Mag-uumang Bol-anon.
Leonard Samar of the local PAGASA earlier confirmed that a strong 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 El NiÃ±o phenomenon is likely to continue affecting Bohol until the end of June wherein only some light rains are possible.