DA assures sufficient supply of major staples despite El Niño

MANILA, (PIA) – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has reiterated its statement that there will be enough rice, corn, sugar, pork, chicken, and other essential commodities despite the El Niño dry spell affecting the country.

Agriculture Undersecretary Roger Navarro said Agriculture Secretary Francisco Tiu presented the nation’s supply outlook and the agency’s planned measures to President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. during a recent sectoral meeting. 

Navarro said the agriculture chief guaranteed a stable supply of basic commodities and sees no shortages in the coming months.

President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. and Agriculture Secretary Francisco P. Tiu Laurel Jr. on Saturday, February 3, meet with farmers, local government leaders and officials of the Department of Agriculture in Pampanga to sustain the push for agricultural modernization and increased food production in the face of El Niño. (DA photo)

The President is closely monitoring the government’s efforts to mitigate El Niño’s impact. Measures include strict monitoring of commodity production, establishing more cold storage facilities and warehouses to strengthen post-harvest infrastructure, and enhancing border controls with improved cold examination facilities. The Task Force El Niño, composed of various government agencies, is also actively coordinating relief efforts to minimize the dry spell’s effects.

According to the 2024 Rice Supply and Demand Outlook, the country’s rice supply will remain stable until year-end with an annual average surplus of 3.7 million metric tons, equivalent to a 99-day buffer. Supplies of corn, eggs, onions, sugar, and fish are also sufficient.

Navarro emphasized the importance of securing rice supply to avoid price hikes.

At least 65 provinces, representing approximately 77 percent of the Philippines, are expected to experience drought by May 2024 due to a “strong” El Niño phenomenon, said Science and Technology Secretary Renato Solidum Jr.

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Solidum explained that “moderate to severe drought conditions” are anticipated from February to May 2024, impacting the majority of the country.

He further elaborated that approximately six provinces (7 percent) are facing the potential for “dry spell” conditions, which are less severe than droughts, and warned that Northern Luzon could experience scorching temperatures reaching 41 degrees Celsius (105.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in April or May, with the heat index potentially rising by an additional 5 to 15 degrees.

A dry spell is defined as three consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, while a dry condition is defined as two consecutive months of below normal rainfall condition, both 21 to 60 percent reduction from average rainfall.

Drought, on the other hand, is three consecutive months of way below normal rainfall condition (60 percent reduction from average rainfall). (JCO/PIA-NCR)

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