NIA considering crop calendar adjustment

Farmers are seen in a rice field in Bustos, Bulacan, Oct. 17, 2023. — PHILIPPINE STAR/KJ ROSALES

THE National Irrigation Administration (NIA) said on Sunday that it may adjust the timetable for providing water to reduce potential crop losses, especially for rice.

“With the goal of ensuring sufficient farm yield and minimizing rice imports, NIA is considering adjusting the cropping calendar,” it said in a statement posted on Facebook.

The Philippines imported 3.58 million metric tons (MT) of rice in 2023, according to the Bureau of Plant Industry.

The NIA said it will work around a schedule of two cropping periods during the dry season, one from October to January, and the other from February to May.

According to NIA, doing so would minimize the impact of typhoon damage to standing crops.

NIA Administrator Eduardo G. Guillen has also accelerated the timetables of irrigation projects.

The use of high-yielding hybrid seed could potentially increase yields in NIA-irrigated sites to 8 million MT of palay or unmilled rice.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) is targeting palay output of 20 million MT this year, roughly unchanged in light of the prevailing El Niño.

Mr. Guillen has said that 20% of agricultural production may be affected by El Niño.

The government weather service, known as PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), said El Niño is projected to last until the second quarter, bringing dry spells or droughts to 63 provinces.

NIA said that it is seeking to partner with the DA, the Department of Public Works and Highways, and other national and local government agencies as well as the private sector in irrigation development. — Adrian H. Halili