Taking risk at the height of mild El NiÃ±o phenomenon, Bohol farmers face the challenge of at least sustaining last yearâ€™s yield and self-sufficiency record in palay production as a slump looms with the second quarter in the offing.
The ongoing survey on the first quarter yield this year might post a manageable standing, but the second quarter record might bear the consequence of the extremely low rainfall.
According to Engr. Maximino Servillon of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS)Â Provincial Operations Center, Bohol rice production decreased from 256,405 metric tons in 2013 to 255,053 metric tons last year.
In the first quarter of 2013, Bohol posted palay yield of 80,126 metric tons which dropped to 74,702 metric tons in the same period last year.
Of the figures, palay produce from irrigated ricefields decreased from 40,169 metric tons to 37,786 metric tons, while those from rainfed areas decreased from 39,957 metric tons to 36,916 metric tons.
The decrease in rice production was attributed to the calamities that hit the province.
Larry Pamugas, officer-in-charge of the Provincial Agriculturistâ€™s Office, said that so far, the yield in the first quarter this year surpassed last yearâ€™s record in the same period.
The period, April to July, might be difficult and Bohol farmers face another challenge of maximizing the second half of the year to cover up the losses in the first half.
This time, the cropping season from April to June might significantly drop because of the extremely low rainfall.
As of yesterday, the Tagbilaran data showed an extremely low rainfall of 8 millimeter and 10.4 mm in Bilar, a significant drop to the usual 200 mm. The data also showed that there had been six days with rain in March.
By January, it already started decreasing to 193 mm and on to 57.21 mm by February. By March, it had further dropped to just 56 mm and continued to decrease.
There could be less effect though in the harvest, considering that the bulk of the harvest was in March, until the effect became evident in areas where farmers took the risk of starting the next cropping season in the first week of April.
The rainfall reaching 300 mm in December, brought about by the three typhoons, gave the farmers an opportunity to plant for the previous cropping season, but the dry spell immediately took over by the latter part of January.
In the recent meeting of the Technical Working Group of the provincial government, resource persons from the local office of the Philippine Atmospheric,Â Geophysical and Astronomical Services AdministrationÂ (PAGASA) relayed the forecast that random rainshowers might be possible in May.
On this, the TWG recommended the postponement of the cloudseeding to the months of June and July.
Pamugas said all the requisites for the cloudseeding have been readied already, including the budget of P2.3 million, and the last to be attended to is the bidding.
It will be undertaken at least once or twice a day, depending on the presence of cumulonimbus clouds.
This is also based on the forecast of PAGASA that mild dry spell will again haunt the province during this period.
Pamugas said this has been an unusual pattern, because in the past three years, there had been enough rainfall even on the Lenten Season.
It has even been made the reference of the farmers to take risk of proceeding with the planting.
Pamugas said the usual wet season had been in May to June and the dry cropping season used to be in October to November. But it is different now.
The stretch of the mild El NiÃ±o affected rainfed areas in the towns of President Carlos P. Garcia, Buenavista, Trinidad and portions of a few other towns.
Servillion, for his part, irrigated areas had been spared, while the low rainfall had more effect on the rainfed areas wherein the palay already burned.
He explained that Malinao Dam, which NIA-7 Manager Mario Sande said is the most affected of the four major dams in Bohol, is a catchment design wherein it only relies mainly on rainfall unlike in other provinces where there are dams that are designed as run-of-the river.
When the water level in Malinao Dam dropped, NIA-7 implemented an alternate release of water wherein water is stored for four days and released for two days after.
It has also been a policy of NIA-7 to only start releasing water to irrigatorâ€™s association members after remitting the dues.