With extended dry spell, Philippine Rice Information System (PRISM) researchers cautioned farmers in  El Niño-affected provinces to practice proper water and farm management techniques.

Dr. Eduardo Jimmy P. Quilang, PhilRice’s OIC Deputy Executive Director for Research and PRISM expert advised farmers in irrigated areas to continue planting to cover the production needs of areas that can no longer plant due to absence of water.

“These irrigated areas should consider synchronous planting to prevent pest infestation. Farmers from irrigated areas should also coordinate well with the National Irrigation Administration regarding the schedule of water supply in their area,” Quilang stated.

For areas with limited water and for those who use water pump, farmers are encouraged to practice direct seeding to reduce production time by an average of 10 days. The use of 60-80 kg/ha seeds is also recommended.

Experts also advised farmers to plant short-duration varieties, such as PSB Rc 10, NSIC Rc130, and NSIC Rc 134, which can be harvested after 104-110 days. Farmers can also opt for rainfed suitable varieties including NSIC Rc 192 and PSB Rc 68, and upland suitable varieties like NSIC Rc 23.

Alternate Wetting and Drying and Aerobic Rice Technology are also recommended to strengthen rice crops by deepening the crop’s roots.

Farmers avoiding risk can also try other sources of livelihood in the farm. Aside from rice crops, they can also tend livestock and plant crops with less water requirement like corn, watermelon, mungbean, and other vegetables.

Using Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images, PRISM identified  Western Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Bicol Region, SOCCSKSARGEN, Cagayan, and MIMAROPA as provinces currently affected by drought. This is in addition to the earlier list of provinces released by Department of Agriculture, which included Occidental Mindoro, Zamboanga Sibugay, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga City, Misamis Oriental, Davao del Sur, Cotabato, and Maguindanao. An estimate of P377.85 M worth of damaged rice has been reported from these provinces.

As of March, PAGASA identified about 2,000 ha intensely hit by drought. The total standing rice crop at risk of drought damage is 119,166 ha while 658,806 ha might be exposed to dry spell. Most of these rice crops are either on reproductive or ripening stages.

“Aside from doing these practices and using the recommended technologies, we also highlight the importance of insurance for farmers. This will help them recover from unexpected losses in times of El Niño and other calamities,” Quilang added.

Local government units in affected areas are also encouraged to establish rainwater harvesting or small water impounding projects.

For additional information on El Nino, farmers can contact PhilRice Text Center (0917- 111-7423) or visit PRISM website at https://prism.philrice.gov.ph/.

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Philippine Rice Research Institute (PhilRice) is a government corporate entity attached to the Department of Agriculture created through Executive Order 1061 on 5 November 1985 (as amended) to help develop high-yielding and cost-reducing technologies so farmers can produce enough rice for all Filipinos.

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