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Mindoro island braces for El Niño onslaught

CALAPAN CITY—Mindoro Island, the premier agricultural center of the Southern Tagalog region, is bracing for the onslaught of the severe drought brought about by El Niño which the weather bureau said is expected to hit the country starting next month.

The seven-month severe drought, which scientists believe the is the strongest to hit the country, will affect the country’s 32 provinces, including Oriental Mindoro and Occidental Mindoro, the rice granary of Region IV-B or the Mimaropa (Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan) region.

“The El Niño weather phenomenon that began this year could be among the strongest in 65 years,” the Pagasa said.

The two Mindoro provinces supply rice to the neighboring island provinces of Romblon, Marinduque, Coron (Palawan), Antique, Aklan; and Batangas, Laguna, and Quezon in Region IV-A or the Calabarzon region. Some parts of Metro Manila, in mainland Luzon, have also rice allocation from Mindoro’s rice supply and production.

But the National Food Authority allayed fears of rice shortage in the region because of El Niño.

“The NFA has enough rice stocks to cushion the impact of the drought,” says NFA Assistant Administrator Tomas R. Escarez, who made field inspections of government warehouses in the Southern Tagalog region.

“Most of the rice stocks for distribution are already in place in the rice-starved areas where the staple grains are badly needed,” Escarez, the former NFA regional director for Southern Luzon, said.

The Pagasa said the present severe weather condition, which will be experienced starting this coming October 2015 to May 2016, is “not just a dry spell but severe drought that will affect sources of potable water such as water aquifers, rivers, lakes and springs.”

“People must use water wisely and conserve water as the water shortage will severely affect not only agriculture but also the health and well-being of the people,” the government’s weather agency said in a press statement.

 The Calapan Water and Development Corp., through its chairman,  Jolly L. Ting, has assured its city consumers that “an ample supply of fresh and potable water will be available to households during the present crisis months of El Niño although we strongly urge our consumers to strongly practice water conservation.”

The Calapan Water has already developed and improved its existing water systems in Calapan City from the P150 million it allocated for the improvement of its water system.

Aside from the two Mindoro (Oriental and Occidental) provinces, Pagasa identified the 30 affected provinces as Isabela, Aurora, Batangas, Cavite, Rizal, Quezon, Romblon, Albay, Catanduanes, Masbate, Sorsogon, Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, Negros Occidental, Bohol, Negros Oriental, Siquijor, Southern Leyte, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, Zamboanga Sibugay, Southern Cotabato, Sarangani, Sultan Kudarat, Basilan, Maguindanao and Sulu.

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