By Tara Yap
Iloilo City — At least 37 towns in Western Visayas suffered crop damage from the El Niño climate phenomenon.
Iloilo province has the most number of towns affected by drought-related damage. According to Iloilo Provincial Agricultural Office, crop damage in 32 towns reached 11,000 hectares.
The Department of Agriculture (DA-6) also found crop damage in three towns of Antique province and one town each in Aklan and Capiz provinces. The numbers are not final as DA-6 is still validating.
Rene Famoso, DA-6 field operations division chief, urged agricultural extension workers to immediately report agricultural losses to the local governments.
While Western Visayas ranked third in rice production last year, the region’s rice farmers still rely on rain to keep their crops alive. Only 40 percent of the 322,000 hectares of rice farm is irrigated.
With the onslaught of El Niño, DA-6 is advising farmers to plant other crops that require less water.
“Corn, onion, and garlic are suitable for cultivation these dry months,” Famoso added.