BROADCAST journalist and senatorial candidate Jiggy Manicad has warned that the developing El Niño may worsen conditions for farmers who are still reeling from last year’s series of typhoons.
“Sa aking pagdayo sa iba’t ibang probinsya para ibalita ang epekto ng El Niño, kitang-kita talaga na ang pinakaapektado ay ang sektor ng agrikultura. Nakakabahala ito kasi marami pang mga magsasaka ang bumabawi mula sa pagkasira dahil sa bagyo noong nakaraang taon,” Manicad said in an interview.
Manicad highlighted that the already ill-equipped farms will become more susceptible to extreme weather changes.
“We already lack enough irrigation facilities for our farmers as it is, and with El Niño, they just become more vulnerable to drought,” the veteran journalist said, adding:
“Rice and other crops would suffer and this would be another setback for the farmers who will still be adjusting to the new tariffication law,” Manicad explained, referring to the recently signed rice tariffication law which would remove import limits on rice brought in from other countries.
As of March 4, five towns in Northern Cotabato and 2 barangays in Occidental Mindoro have already declared a state of calamity due to the developing dry spell.
Other provinces are also rallying to fortify their defenses against El Niño by installing additional water pumps and through cloud seeding.
According to a February forecast from the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), rainfall from March to June would be below normal, yielding dry conditions that will affect different regions in varying degrees.
The newcomer to the Senate race cited the need for “new legislation” to mitigate the effects of climate change particularly on farmers.
According to Manicad, “Climate change is not something we can shrug off. It is happening here and now, and we are already starting to feel it.”
“We’re the third most vulnerable country to climate change, and that means we should be first in line to institutionalize measures to protect against extreme weather,” the multi-awarded journalist said.