31 provinces now affected by drought

Romina Cabrera - The Philippine Star
31 provinces now affected by drought
A farmer checks a portion of a dried rice field along Pulilan-Baliuag Bypass Road in Bulacan on February 26, 2024.
STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The number of provinces affected by drought has risen to 31, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA).

Nineteen of the drought-hit provinces are in Luzon.

These are Abra, Apayao, Benguet, Cagayan, Cavite, Ifugao, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, Isabela, Kalinga, La Union, Mountain Province, Nueva Ecija, Nueva Vizcaya, Occidental Mindoro, Oriental Mindoro, Palawan and Rizal. Metro Manila was included in the list.

In the Visayas, Antique, Biliran, Bohol, Cebu, Eastern Samar, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Negros Occidental, Negros Oriental and Samar were affected by drought.

Lanao del Norte is the only province in Mindanao experiencing drought.

Drought conditions are characterized by below normal rainfall or a 21 to 60 percent reduction from the average for five consecutive months, or way below normal rainfall for three consecutive months.

PAGASA said Batangas, Laguna and Masbate were affected by the dry spell.

Capiz, Siquijor and Southern Leyte in the Visayas and Camiguin, Misamis Occidental, Misamis Oriental, Tawi-Tawi, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur and Zamboanga Sibugay in Mindanao also experienced dry spell.

Fifteen provinces nationwide – nine in Luzon, two in the Visayas and four in Mindanao – experienced dry conditions.

Dry spell means below normal rainfall for three consecutive months, while dry conditions are characterized by below normal rainfall for two months.

PAGASA said El Nino may persist unti May.

In Cagayan Valley, damage to agriculture due to El Niño has reached more than P560 million, Monico Castro Jr., Department of Agriculture (DA) field operations division chief, reported during a management committee meeting last week.

Cornfields incurred the biggest damage with losses of 32,166.95 metric tons followed by rice, 3,657.95 MT, and high-value crops, 80.33 MT.

The DA has coordinated with affected local government units and endorsed the list of farmers to concerned agencies for financial assistance, according to Rose Mary Aquino, acting DA regional executive director.

Cagayan Valley is the top corn producer in the country.

State of calamity in Negros Occidental town

Meanwhile, in Negros Occidental, the Sangguniang Bayan of San Enrique approved during a special session on Monday the recommendation of the Municipal Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council to declare a state of calamity in the town due to the damage caused by El Niño.

Mayor Jilson Tubillara said damage to crops and fisheries was estimated at P9.9 million, with 600 farmers and 6,000 households affected.

San Enrique is among the rice producing towns in Negros Occidental. — Gilbert Bayoran, Victor Martin

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