Â â€œWE NEED to brace for El NiÃ±o! Letâ€™s put our acts together!â€
This is the call of Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado (Bohol, 2ndÂ District) to national government agencies (NGAs) in the wake of predictions by Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Science Administration (PAGASA) and other countriesâ€™ weather stations of a possible another round of the long dry spell this year.
The â€œsuper dryâ€ spellâ€™s cycle used to be seven years. The Philippines experienced one last year but PAGASAâ€™S close monitoring of the oceanic and atmospheric conditions in the tropical Pacific indicates a possible development of El NiÃ±o.
Aumentado said the farming sector is the most vulnerable to El NiÃ±o. The dry spell thwarts the normal development of crops â€“ rice included â€“ that could result in poor harvests.
The solon said an El NiÃ±o for a second consecutive year would be a problem to farmers. Coupled with the ASEAN economic integration where the Philippines can be flooded with rice with no tariffs from other countries can be a double whammy for local farmers.
With this scenario, Aumentado is calling on the Department of Agriculture (DA), its attached agencies as well as other NGAs to assist the farmers.
He exhorts them not to wait for the dry season to happen, but to plan and act now to mitigate its effects.
The assistance may include the distribution of seeds and fertilizers free of charge to the farmers while the rains are still here.
This will cushion the impact of the dry spell especially that poor harvests will cut into the farmersâ€™ income when they need it the most. After all, June is back to school time and farmers would need money for enrolment of their children.
He said the farmers comprise 65% of the countryâ€™s labor force. Boholâ€™s number is even higher than that.
Aumentado said the farmers should get help, because when the farmersâ€™ economy goes down, Boholâ€™s economy will follow suit. (June S. Blanco)