AGRICULTURE SECRETARY Proceso J. Alcala urged rice farmers to plant early and take advantage of the water supply brought about by the rainy season.
“If you start planting now, by July, when it is expected to rain the most, your rice crops would have passed its flowering stage, thus there is a better chance that harvests will be maximized,” he said during a media interaction at the L’Fisher Hotel in Bacolod City, yesterday.
According to Alcala, farmers must take advantage of the intermittent rains especially in rainfed areas. As such, the Department of Agriculture (DA) chief advised farmers and other stakeholders dependent on water for their food production activities to save water and take active actions related to water impounding initiatives of the government.
“We are thankful for the forecasts declared by PAG-ASA, as it prepares and enable us to lay-out efficient strategies to assist our farmers,” Alcala said.
He however noted that even if it is raining every now and then, it does not mean that the El Niño dry spell is over.
“As per experts’ advise, the dry spell will start weak and grow moderate until August this year, it will persist until December and will start weakening until early 2016,” he said.
Alcala underscored that the agency has mapped out a variety of climate adaptation measures to cushion the impact of adverse weather changes.
“We are ready to schedule cloud seeding operations in case there is a need to induce rains during long dry seasons,” he assured.
He added that DA is ready to install water pumps and solar water pumps in communities that will need augmentation in water supply.
Alcala was in Negros Occidental, on June 23, 2015, to oversee the operation of the agricultural tramline system installed by DA’s Philippine Center for Postharvest Development and Mechanization in Salvador Benedicto.
The project aims to help farmers of the municipality [Salvador Benedicto] as well as the city of San Carlos haul and transport their produce easier and for a shorter period of time, thereby lowering postharvest losses and enabling farmers to earn more.
The two-way bicable tramline system serves around 400 farmers producing upland rice, banana, ginger, corn, vegetables, coconut and livestock.
With the installation of the tramline, farmers are able to lessen transport time from 3 hours to only 15 minutes, and deliver to trading centers at shorter periods of time.
“The system also helps them maintain the good quality of their products, which in effect enables them to demand good price in the markets,” Alcala said.
Governor Alfrdo Marañon, Jr., who stressed that Alcala was the first cabinet secretary to set foot in Salvador Benedicto, thanked the agri chief for all his assistance in the agricultural development of the province.
Speaking at a farmers’ forum held in La Carlota, Alcala assured all farmer-participants that the government will continue to provide assistance and support to the country’s agriculture sector. As such, he directed all concerned DA officials to immediately conduct training on efficient and productive farming systems, as well as provide support on farm mechanization and infrastructure development programs of the department to ensure that farmers live will reach the optimal effect of government assistance.
“Ako po ay personal na inatasan ng ating pangulo na ilapit sa inyo [magsasaka at mangingisda] ang mga programa ng pamahalaan para naman po maramadaman ninyo ang pagbabago sa inyong buhay at kabuhayan,” he assured. # (ODA RODRIGUEZ/AFID) – Adapted News, www.da.gov.ph