Up to 80 provinces may be affected by El Niño as warmer temperatures are expected in April and May.

Citing a projection by the National Irrigation Administration, Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary Joey Villarama at a public briefing aired over state-run People's Television said 275,000 hectares of agricultural land may be affected by drought.

Villarama, also the spokesman for the government's El Niño task force, noted that as of Feb. 25, the number of provinces affected by El Niño has reached 51.

He said the number of affected provinces is seen to 'increase to 73, then reach 80 before it goes down again to 50 plus.'

'The effects of a strong and mature El Niño will persist until May and June. We will see what we can do,' Villarama said.

He said the Department of Agriculture (DA) is urging concerned local government units to declare a state of calamity for them to access the quick response fund and receive assistance from the national government.

Villarama said the DA has provided an initial financial aid to two towns in Mindoro, which were severely affected by drought.

At a briefing of the House committee on agriculture and food, Ma. Ana Liza Solis, acting chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA)'s climatology and agrometeorology division, said higher temperatures would be experienced 'in an instance' in valley areas in Northern Luzon and some mountainous areas in lowland Mindanao.

She said the maximum temperature in Metro Manila would range from 36 to 38 degrees Celsius in April and 36.5 to 38.3 degrees Celsius in May.

Citing PAGASA's latest climate outlook, Solis said six to nine tropical cyclones are expected to occur in the country from March to August.

She said 30 provinces - 25 in Luzon and five in the Visayas - are expected to experience drought in March.

In April, 42 provinces - 27 in Luzon, 12 in the Visayas and three in Mindanao - will experience dry spell.

'Mature El Niño is expected to continue and show signs of weakening. But despite weakening... it will have an impact on various sectors in the country,' Solis said.

Agricultural damage

Meanwhile, damage to agriculture due to El Niño in Cagayan Valley and Ilocos Norte has reached P198 million as of yesterday.

Danilo Arade, Ilocos Norte provincial rice coordinator, said damage to rice production in Bacarra, Bangui, Banna, Burgos, Dingras, Nueva Era, Pasuquin, Piddig, Batac and Laoag was estimated at P18 million.

In Cagayan Valley, losses in corn production were pegged at P180 million.

In a report to Gov. Eugenio Jose Lacson, the office of the provincial agriculturist said damage due to drought in the province has reached P55 million.

Copyright © 2022 PhilSTAR Daily, Inc Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).