Cebu City prepares for El Nin~o with clustering of agri villages

Clustering of 30 upland, crop-producing villages has facilitated the rollout of various assistance to the farmers in preparation for the upcoming El Nin~o that is expected to affect the agriculture sector here by the last quarter of this year. Engr. Joelito Baclayon, head of the Cebu City Agriculture Office, said a PHP160-million budget, which is twice the original proposal due to the rising concern of the dry spell’s impact on the farmers here, is allotted to fund protective measures. Among the concerns the city is looking into is a steady supply of water and a functional irrigation system to water the gardens in the mountain villages, the city agriculturist said. ‘We have farmers in the 30 barangays who are into different types of agricultural production. We have to cluster and register them to identify their problem areas and the specific budgetary request. They need to identify their needs before we provide them the assistance,’ Baclayon said in Cebuano during a forum in Cebu City. The city government also offers technological training for the farmers to expose them to the mitigation plan that would guide them on which crops they could plant during the elongated dry spell when El Nin~o affects Cebu island. ‘Our office has also introduced variety-cropping, choosing the best crops that can thrive even during months of dry season,’ he said. Farmers from five Cebu City hinterland villages are now producing lettuce that is being delivered to restaurants and hotels here. They find the ‘mulching’ technique of covering the upper surface of the soil for weed control and retaining soil moisture as an effective and productive way of farming lettuce and high-value crop in this city’s mountain areas with lesser water requirement, he said. ‘So far, as seen in the previous month, we have rain every day. In fact, many have asked if there would indeed be an El Nin~o. We might experience in Cebu City a milder effect of the El Nin~o but we don’t take it as a reason to lower our mitigation measures,’ he added.

Source: Philippines News Agency