P51M for cloud seeding program amid El Niño
CEBU – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has allocated some P51 million for cloud seeding operations in the country to respond to a hurting agricultural sector that continues to bore the brunt of the El Niño phenomenon.
Engr. Oscar Tabada, chief of the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA) – Visayas, said the country will continue to experience abnormal rainfall levels with hotter and more humid climate as the El Niño is expected to peak by May.
“Provinces across the country, especially in Mindanao, are already affected by the dry spell as next month, El Niño’s impact will cover more provinces,” said Tabada.
He said the severe drought is largely affecting the farmers as harvest of rice and crops. In order to help the agricultural sector, the DOST has earmarked a budget for cloud seeding operations to induce rain for the irrigation systems vital for the starving rice fields and crops.
Tabada said their agency is helping in the cloud seeding operations on when would be the appropriate time based on weather projections to conduct the cloud seeding activity. He said cloud seeding operations started in Mindanao and that Western Visayas and Cebu will also follow next.
The Department of Agriculture is also conducting separate cloud seeding operations in Bohol province as water dams have reached critical water levels. Marina Hermoso, regional technical director for operations, said among the dams that have benefited from the cloud seeding activities are the Malinao Dam in Pilar town and Bayongan Dam in the municipality of San Miguel.
Malinao Dam is an irrigation project covering 3,500 hectares of riceland areas serving five towns while Bayongan Dam covers 2,858 hectares augmenting existing water supply for farmlands of three municipalities, according to Hermoso.
Cloud seeding operations are costly with one procedure alone estimated to cost up to P1 million due to the rental of a helicopter.