El Niño mitigation measures also seen useful during La Niña

REUTERS

THE MEASURES implemented to curb the effects of El Niño will also help reduce La Niña’s impact on agriculture.

Rizal Commercial Banking Corp. Chief Economist Michael L. Ricafort said that the government’s mitigation measures for El Niño will also come in handy for the heavier-than-usual rains brought about by La Niña.

“Preparations for El Niño include pre-emptive imports of rice and agricultural products, extension of reduced tariffs on some imported agricultural products and simplified import procedures,” Mr. Ricafort said in a Viber message.

As of May 8, damage and loses to agriculture due to El Niño hit P6.35 billion, affecting over 270,034 metric tons of crops. Rice and corn were the most affected commodities.

Last year, the government extended the lower tariff regime for rice, pork, and corn, via Executive Order (EO) No. 50.

The President also issued Administrative Order (AO) No. 20, which simplifies the procedures for agricultural imports, while removing non-tariff barriers.

Former Agriculture Undersecretary Fermin D. Adriano said that La Niña is expected to be delayed, as predicted by PAGASA, the government weather service.

“It (may) start July or August. Expect prices to increase because of the combined effect of rising production costs and climate change,” Mr. Adriano said in a Viber message.

In its latest bulletin, PAGASA said that there is a 60% chance of La Niña occurring between June and August as El Niño is weakening. El Niño’s impacts, however, such as hotter and drier conditions, may persist.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) said that it is preparing for a “more destructive” La Niña which could potentially affect crops late in the year.

The DA said it will focus on areas which were historically affected by previous occurrences of the La Niña.

Agriculture Assistant Secretary and Spokesperson Arnel V. de Mesa told reporters last week that if La Niña were to happen during the end of that year, it could potentially affect the dry season planting. — Adrian H. Halili