Bicol farmers face climate change challenge next planting season

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Bicol farmers are facing an immediate challenge based on the seasonal climate outlook advisory by the Department of Agriculture covering the months of September this year up until January 2016.

Reduced rainfall and increase in temperature might reduce crop yield, specifically in rain-fed as well as irrigated areas at the tail end of canals, and might also cause heat stress to livestock and poultry production, it said.

Even DA Regional Executive Director Abelardo Bragas on Friday advised Bicol farmers to use early-maturing rice varieties in lowland areas currently affected by flooding due heavy rains by the prevailing weather system and drought tolerant varieties in upland and rain-fed areas.

The advisory is a special project of the department that intend to guide agricultural stakeholders in the region on the seasonal weather situation for more productivity.

The advisory said the chance of El Niño is greater than 90 percent through the end of this year, with 85-percent chance that it will last until the early part of 2016 based on latest El Niño southern oscillation outlook.

High temperature would also cause heat stress to livestock and poultry production that both large and small ruminants should be provided with sheds and the “cut and carry” feeding practice must be applied while silage making is more applicable during the drier months that also need the provision of drinking water to livestock to minimize heat stress, he said.

In anticipation of this unfavorable climate condition, the advisory directs Bicol farmers to repair and clean water canals and irrigation systems for efficient drainage and water conservation.

To conserve moisture in vegetable farms, mulching may be applied using plastic sheets, rice straw or any other available materials, it said.

Bragas said farmers all over the region should now be planting to take advantage of the high moisture availability owing to the prevailing near normal rainfall which started in the late part of October and enable them to harvest before the forecast drought.

He warned that the favorable amount of rainfall in some parts of Bicol like Albay, Catanduanes and Sorsogon owing to the “amihan” (northeasterly wind) might cause prevalence of insect pest and fungal disease on crops; chronic respiratory or bacteria diseases in poultry; hemorrhagic septicemia in ruminants; and pneumonia and diarrhea for swine.

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