El Niño damages 235,000 MT of palay

The prolonged dry spell caused by El Niño destroyed 235,000 metric tons (MT) of paddy rice, according to the latest data from the Department of Agriculture (DA).

However, Agriculture Secretary Proceso J. Alcala said the havoc wreaked by El Niño on the farm sector has not been as extensive as the government had initially feared.

“We have made projections in 2015 that more or less 970,000 MT of palay might be destroyed by El Niño this year, but as of May 15, only 235,000 MT  has so far been damaged as reported,” Alcala  added.

Citing field reports, Alcala said farmers were still able to harvest high-quality palay.

Earlier, he added that the DA’s hybridization program helped scale down the adverse impact of El Niño on rice production.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) showed the country’s paddy rice production in the first quarter of the year dropped by 9.97 percent to 3.93 million MT, from 4.37 million MT recorded in the same period in 2015.

Meanwhile, Alcala said the DA has already made initial preparations for the possible occurrence of La Niña in the later part of the year.

Alcala said the DA will encourage the use of the Green Super Rice, a multistress tolerant rice variety developed by the Philippine Rice Research Institute and the International Rice Research Institute.

He also disclosed that the PSA is currently evaluating the losses that may be incurred by farmers due to La Niña.

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